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UK shoppers shrug off inflation pressure as sun comes out

Prices are displayed on a store window in London, the UK. Photo: Reuters

Prices are displayed on a store window in London, the UK. Photo: Reuters

British shoppers set aside their concerns about fast-rising inflation following the Brexit vote and stepped up spending last month at the fastest rate in years, encouraged by fine weather, official data showed.

The unexpectedly strong figures suggest that – at least temporarily – consumers’ mood has become more upbeat in the run-up to a June 8 national election that Prime Minister Theresa May’s ruling Conservatives are tipped to win by a wide margin. Retail sales volumes jumped by 2.3 per cent on the month in April, the Office for National Statistics said yesterday, beating the median forecast for a one per cent rise in a Reuters poll of economists.

The robust data contrasts with a generally downbeat tone so far this year, as a pick-up in inflation triggered by the fall in the pound after last year’s Brexit vote ate into households’ disposable income.

The rebound followed a sharp 1.4 per cent fall in March that capped the weakest calendar quarter since 2010.

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