Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Weak April retail sales
Posted by David Smith at 09:55 AM
Category: Thoughts and responses

Sometimes you get fed up of blaming the weather but there must have been a strong weather effect in the April retail sales figures, down 2.3% on the month as petrol and diesel sales (included in the figures) plunged by more than 13%. The volume of sales excluding fuel fell by 1%.

Both measures were up over the latest three months, by 0.2% and 0.5% respectively. My reading is that the grim April weather deterred people from taking day trips and last-minute short breaks over Easter, a factor that also hit summer clothing sales hard. There's a strange number in the release, which is that the value of food sales was only 0.1% up on a year earlier, at a time of high food inflation. Not so easy to explain. The weather is not, of course, the only factor. Real incomes are being squeezed by high inflation, etc. More here.

Meanwhile, the Bank of England's monetary policy committee (MPC) voted 8-1 to leave the amount of quantitative easing unchanged at 325 billion in May. The one vote in favour of more, 25 billion, was David Miles. Most MPC members saw no case for more QE, though "several" saw it as being finely balanced. The International Monetary Fund, of course, has urged more. The minutes are here.