U.K. retail sales rebounded in April, following a steep quarterly decline in the first three months of the year, data showed Thursday, suggesting the economy began the second quarter on a stronger footing.
Retail sales grew by 2.3% on the month in April, significantly more than the 1.5% growth seen in a Wall Street Journal poll, as warm weather encouraged shoppers to fork out on gardening tools and home improvements.
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Compared with April last year, sales were 4.0% higher, also significantly above analysts' expectations of 2.3% growth.
Thursday's figures add to signs that the U.K. economy bounced back in the second quarter after a sluggish start to the year.
Accelerating inflation and meager wage growth weighed down heavily on consumer spending in the first three months of the year, causing the whole economy to slow significantly, preliminary figures showed.
Inflation hit an over three-year high of 2.7% in April, data showed earlier this week, the third consecutive month of above-target price growth. The Bank of England expects inflation to peak at around 2.8% later this year, and gradually return to target afterwards.
Spurred by the pound's steep depreciation in the wake of the Brexit vote last year, accelerating inflation means that Britons are now facing a living standards squeeze.
In the first quarter of the year, regular wages adjusted for inflation fell for the first time since 2014.
Write to Wiktor Szary at Wiktor.Szary@wsj.com and Jason Douglas at Jason.Douglas@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 18, 2017 04:49 ET (08:49 GMT)