27 May 2018 - Janet Bird
April brought good news for Britain's embattled high streets with an unexpected retail sales surge.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released figures showing retail sales rose 1.6 percent in April compared to a month previously, when there was a 1.2 percent fall.
The level of growth surprised analysts, who had expected sales to rise just 0.7 percent.
The rise in sales affected all sectors, with department stores the only exception, experiencing overall a 0.9 percent drop.
Despite the spike in April, retail sales growth has slowed considerably over the longer term. When considered together, sales growth in March and April was done on a year previously, falling from 2.9 percent to 1.3 percent.
Online retail sales, however, continued to grow and now account for 17.3 percent over overall sales, up from 16.1 percent last year.