Commenting on the April retail sales figures, published today by the ONS, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said:

“Although these figures were marginally better than expected, they confirm the broad picture of a fragile recovery that is still facing many obstacles.  Businesses are still struggling, and it is clearly too early to consider raising interest rates - a prolonged period of low interest rates is essential to help support the recovery.

“However, following this week’s higher inflation figures, the MPC will not be able to disregard the risks to confidence without a credible plan to reduce the unsustainable budget deficit.

“While there are welcome signs that a detailed deficit-reduction plan will be announced in next month’s emergency Budget, it may be necessary for the Chancellor to announce meaningful measures even earlier, starting with an immediate freeze of the total public sector wage bill.”