Retail sales rose by 1.6% in April as consumer spending bounced back after unseasonal snowfall earlier this year, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

All sectors, excluding department stores, recovered from the declines seen in March. However, the volume of goods bought in the retail industry remained relatively flat with a slight increase of 0.1% in the six months to April.

Petrol sales reported the largest recovery in April, with growth of 4.7% compared with a decline of 6.9% in the previous month, as road closures affected travel in March. 

Online retail sales continued to grow year-on-year at 17.3% in April, with food and clothing stores benefitting from the rise.

Compared to the same period last year, retail sales growth slowed to 1.3% for March and April 2018 when compared with growth of 2.9% for the same two-month period in 2017.

ONS head of national accounts Rob Kent-Smith said: “Retail sales bounced back in April, as petrol and other sales recovered from the snowfall. But the underlying position remains subdued with the volume of goods sold over the last six months broadly unchanged.

“Over the longer-term, retail sales growth has slowed considerably, with increases in food, household goods and internet retailers being largely offset by declines across all other types of retailing.”