UK retail sales boosted by April's warm weather
UK retail sales rose by 1.2% in April, the strongest increase since November, as the warm weather encouraged shoppers to stock up on summer clothes.
The increase was stronger than expected, with analysts having forecast volumes to rise by 0.4%.
Sales of clothing, footwear and textiles jumped 5.2% in April from March, the biggest rise for four years.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures also showed sales volumes were up 4.7% from the year before.
The better-than-expected figures led to a strong rise in the pound. Sterling rose by more than a cent against the dollar to above $1.56, as traders saw the figures as a fresh sign of strength in the UK economy.
In addition to the warm weather, analysts said that rising levels of income and consumer confidence were also helping to fuel the rise in sales.
David Tinsley, economist with UBS, said: "Alongside the weather, it is evident that the conditions are in place for solid underlying retail sales growth."
John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC, said the figures suggested that consumers were continuing to drive the UK's economic recovery, helped by low inflation and rising wages.
However, he cautioned that fierce competition meant that retailers were struggling to increase the value of their sales.
"Despite the strong headline volume growth figures, there are still tough times ahead on the High Street," he said.