May 2, 2019 / 11:01 PM / 25 days ago

British shop sales fall in April, BDO survey shows

LONDON, May 3 (Reuters) - Sales in British shops fell in April, a survey showed on Friday, even though warm weather and the Easter holidays should have encouraged shopping.

Accountancy and business advisory firm BDO said its monthly High Street Sales Tracker found sales in UK shops fell 0.4 percent in April from April a year ago, when sales plunged 3.8 percent. It was the third monthly decline for in-store sales so far this year.

However, it contradicted data published by the Confederation of British Industry last week, which said retail sales rose for the first time in five months in April.

“Whilst a marginal drop in sales may not on the face of it seem significant, it has to be taken in the context of a low benchmark and, crucially, what should have been perfect shopping conditions last month,” said Sophie Michael, BDO’s head of retail and wholesale.

“With record warm weather, Easter holidays and more Brits taking staycations, April should have been a bumper month for high street retailers. Instead, these factors couldn’t prevent further decline,” she said.

Real wage growth and low unemployment were not filtering through to spending, with consumer confidence low, she said.

BDO said non-store like-for-like sales grew by 18.3 percent in April as shoppers continued to gravitate online.

The recent performance of individual UK retailers has been mixed. Department store group Debenhams collapsed into administration in April, but clothing retailer Next reported a rise in first-quarter sales.

Reporting by James Davey, editing by Larry King

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