April's UK retail sales values were down 2.2 per cent on a like-for-like basis when compared with April 2012, when they had declined 3.3 per cent on the preceding year, the British Retail Consortium/KPMG has found.
By comparison, garden centre sales were up 7.2 per cent in April but are down 8.85 per cent for the year to date, the Garden Centre Association has found.
High street growth was negatively impacted by the timing of Easter, which fell in April last year but in March this year. The three-month total growth average, which irons out the Easter distortions, was 2.6 per cent. It remained above the long-term 12-month average, which continued on an uptrend to reach 2.5 per cent.
Adjusted for Shop Price Index inflation at 0.4 per cent in April, total retail sales declined 1.0 per cent in real terms while the three-month average showed growth of 1.6 per cent.
Online sales were up 8.3 per cent compared with April 2012, when they had risen by 9.0 per cent.
British Retail Consortium director general Helen Dickinson said: "On the surface these are really poor figures but they’re hiding another respectable month. The fact that the boost from Easter didn’t fall in April this year hit food sales in particular. But, taking away the Easter distortion, this was actually a better month than March, especially for non-food sales.
"There’s a sense that people are more prepared to spend than they were but chief executives are telling me that’s volatile. A convincing trend towards revival is hard to spot and competitive pricing is still critical to generating sales, despite the effect on margins and on retailers’ ability to invest in offering customers new ways to shop.