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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 May 2006, 08:55 GMT 09:55 UK
Retail sales data shows recovery
Shoppers in Oxford Street, London
Confidence could be returning to the High Street
Retail sales recovered in April, driven by the non-food sector, according to government figures.

Overall sales in the three months to the end of April were up 0.1%, bouncing back from the 0.6% dip seen in the three months to the end of March.

The level of one-month growth from March to April was even stronger, rising by 0.6%.

Sales at food stores increased by 2.6% in the three months to April, while non-food sales were up 3%.

The average weekly value of sales in April was 4.7m, 3.6% higher than April 2005, and 4.5% ahead of March 2006.

'Welcome news'

Howard Archer, chief European economist at research firm Global Insight, said the latest figures "indicate that the consumer has returned to a limited extent after taking a breather at the beginning of the year".

"Nevertheless, spending remains clearly below the levels of recent years and still seems to need to be encouraged by significant discounting."

The ONS said prices on the High Street in April were down 1.2% on the same month last year.

"This is welcome news for the Bank of England, and alleviates pressure for a near-term hike in interest rates," added Mr Archer.

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