UK retail sales plummet in April over rainfall, panic fuel buying

24 May 2012 (Last Updated May 24th, 2012 02:00)

Retail sales volumes in the UK plummeted to a two-year low in April 2012, owing to a record rainfall in the month.

Retail sales decline

Retail sales volumes in the UK plummeted to a two-year low in April 2012, owing to a record rainfall in the month.

According to the retail sales report released by Office for National Statistics (ONS), the sales volumes declined by 2.3% compared to March 2012 and by 1.1% compared to April 2011.

Panic buying of fuel in March over the threat of a possible fuel strike also heavily impacted the overall retail sales volumes in April, the report said.

Sales volumes in predominantly automotive fuel stores plunged by 13.2% month-on-month, marking the largest fall in this series, which started in February 1996; and dropped 8% year-on-year.

Sales values for fuel stream also declined by 3.4% in April 2012 compared with April 2011.

Predominantly food stores sales volumes in April 2012 fell by 3.5% over the same month year ago, while value of sales surged marginally by 0.1% - the series' lowest ever rate of growth since its beginning in January 1989.

According to ONS, Wettest April washed out the sales volumes of textile, clothing and footwear stores - another series after food and automotive fuel to have affected the retail industry.

Sales volumes at textile, clothing and footwear stores recorded a drop of 7.5% in April 2012 over the same period a year before, marking the largest fall since May 1991, when it slipped by 8.3%.

The stream's sales values also saw a fall of 5.5% over April 2011, the deepest decline after May 2009, when it posted 7.9% drop.

UK's retail industry experienced a relief with a few streams posting increase in their year-on-year sales volumes - predominantly non-food stores by 0.8%; non-specialised stores by a significant 8.8%; household goods stores by 3.6%; other stores by 2.5%; and non-store retailing by a whopping 13.5%.

Image: Retail sales volumes of textile, clothing and footwear stores were down by 7.5% due to record rainfall in April 2012. Photo: Stuart Miles