Cigarettes and alcohol boost retail sales in April

The main driver of the surprise rise in UK retail sales in April was alcohol and cigarette sales.

Last month the volume of sales jumped by 1.4% after a 1.2% fall in March. Despite the rising cost of living weighing on household budgets, sales continue to grow. However, official figures revealed a longer downward trend in overall sales. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) people are staying at home to save money as retail sales rose last month. Financial analysts for AJ Bel, Danni Hewson says the “sharp rise” in spending on food and drink in supermarkets “could indicate that people are choosing their kitchen table over pubs and restaurants to save money”. “While spending on food has remained largely unchanged, suggesting people are remaining cautious, spending on alcohol and tobacco has soared,” she added. “Life’s little luxuries… will have to come into the budget as these budgets are being tested.” This is when the online sales tax will hurt High Street says M&S.

Energy bills push prices to 40-year high; Consumers are cutting back on spending in the face of rising living costs, so experts were expecting a further fall in sales in April, that’s when the latest official figures showed that the rate of price rises, inflation, reached 9% in the 12 months to April, the highest rate for 40 years. Millions of people are facing an unprecedented rise in their bills of £700 a year due to the impact of the latest energy price rise in April.

However, the war in Ukraine and the pandemic have been driving up prices for months, with fuel, energy and food prices soaring, the inflation rate is expected to continue to rise this year. People are starting to cut back on spending and use their cars less because of record petrol and diesel prices, says the ONS, according to the ONS sales in the three months to the end of April were down 0.3% overall, indicating a longer downward trend

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