Like-for-like retail sales declined last month as apparel demand fell sharply. Home categories including furniture were the strongest performing.

So says the British Retail Consortium, whose monthly KPMG sponsored Retail Sales Monitor recorded a 0.9 per cent fall in same-store sales compared with April 2015.

That was the biggest year-on-year fall recorded since August 2015. Overall sales in April were flat, factoring in the effect of new store space and online.

“Some retailers will take comfort in that sales in the home categories continued to grow; once again ranked as the best performing sector, said BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson.

“This is on the back of a continuing rise in the number of home owners enjoying record low interest rates,” she added.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: “Overall, retail sales slowed during April with temperatures well below the average for the time of year.”

He said that over the three months to April, non-food like-for-like growth had been particularly weak, especially fashion and footwear, with the cooler weather dampening the launch of spring/summer ranges.

"On the brighter side, furniture and home accessories continued to fare well as retailers reaped the benefits of well-timed promotions,” he added.

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