Retail sales volumes in the UK experienced a notable decline of 2.3% in April 2024, following a marginal decrease of 0.2% in March 2024, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). 

This downturn continued a year-on-year volume reduction of 2.7%, positioning sales at 3.8% below the pre-pandemic levels of February 2020.  

The latest figures suggest that the dampened spring weather significantly impacted consumer shopping habits. 

Sales in non-food stores were particularly affected, with sales volumes plummeting by 4.1% in April 2024, marking the steepest drop since January 2021, ONS said. 

Among others, clothing retailers, sports equipment, games, toys stores, and furniture outlets were the hardest hit. 

During the month, automotive fuel sales also recorded their most significant monthly fall since October 2021. Food stores, predominantly supermarkets, faced their third consecutive monthly decline. 

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Online spending values also fell by 1.2% in April 2024, with a year-over-year decrease of 1.5%.  

Despite this, the proportion of online sales rose slightly from 26.2% in March 2024 to 26.5% in April 2024, as the total spending drop was more pronounced at 2.6% for the month.  

British Retail Consortium Insight director Kris Hamer said: “Sales volumes saw significant decline in April, falling for the third time in five months as the gloomy, wet weather combined with the cost of living squeeze dampened spending.  

“Cosmetics continued to sell well, and computer sales were boosted thanks to promotional activity and consumers upgrading their tech a few years after the pandemic surge in tech sales.  

“Meanwhile, clothing and footwear and furniture failed to deliver due to the poor weather and consumers thinking twice before buying high ticket items.” 

In the 12 months to April 2024, the UK CPI annual inflation rate dropped to 2.3% .