The quantity of goods purchased from retail stores rose by 1.4% in April 2022, following a fall of 1.2% the previous month.

However, data from the Office for National Statistics shows that sales volumes decreased by 0.3% in the three months to April compared with the previous three months - continuing a downward trend since spring 2021.

Despite this, sales volumes in April were 4.1% higher than February 2020 (pre-pandemic) levels.

The rise in retail sales volumes in April was driven by a 2.8% increase in food store sales, following falls in the previous five months.

Non-store retailing sales volumes rose by 3.7% in April 2022 and were led by stronger clothing sales, which Julian Jessop of the Institute of Economic Affairs said is evidence that "life is getting back to normal after Covid".

Responding to the data, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:

"Retail sales are being squeezed by a combination of low demand, high inflation and rising costs.

"The fall in demand comes as consumers rein in their discretionary spending following a significant reduction to real incomes for households across the UK."

She added that "retailers could be in for some difficult times ahead" unless inflation is brought to heel and consumer confidence returns.

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