Commenting on retail sales figures for April, released today by the Office for National Statistics, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“The strong retail sales figures for April strengthen hopes that the economy has continued to grow in the second quarter of the year. Though there were special factors boosting retail sales during the month, most notably the royal wedding, the Easter break, and a run of good weather, the figures are encouraging.   

“However, we must bear in mind other factors in the second quarter, meaning overall growth in the economy may not be as positive as the retail figures suggest. The number of days worked in April was smaller than usual, and this coupled with the impacts of the government’s austerity programme could mean activity and output for the month is dampened. Overall, the net impact of these conflicting factors point to positive, but reduced growth in the second quarter.” “It is clear that the economy remains fragile, and businesses as well as individuals are facing serious pressures. The outlook will remain uncertain for some time, and it would be misguided to use this improvement in retail sales to justify early interest rate increases. Every effort must be made to sustain the recovery at a time when the government is persevering with measures to cut the deficit.”