The miserable weather in April proved to be a wash-out for retail sales, new figures show.
UK retail sales fell by 3.3% on a like-for-like basis compared with April 2011, when they were up 5.2% on April 2010, according to data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
On a total basis, sales were down 1.0%, against a 6.9% increase in April 2011.
Food sales fell back below their year-earlier level, when they had benefited from Easter buying.
Record April rainfall and chilly temperatures hit clothing and footwear sales during the month.
And while it helped some smaller homewares, big-ticket purchases continued to struggle and were often promotion-led, amid continued consumer caution. Online (including mail-order and phone) sales of non-food items showed slower growth, though against a relatively strong April 2011.
Sales were 9.0% up on a year ago, the weakest since November 2011. The changing timing of Easter always makes analysis difficult in March and April, said the BRC
This is because April 2011 was particularly strong, as it included all four days of Easter compared with only two in April 2010.
"The wettest April since records began has put a dampener on retailers' fortunes," said Stephen Robertson, director general at the BRC.
"Consumer interest in summer fashions and outdoor products was washed away by constant downpours.
"It would have been difficult for this April to out-perform April 2011 even with favourable weather, but these numbers are still disappointing."
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