Interest rate rise looms as spending grows

Last updated at 10:40 20 May 2004

Retail sales volumes continued to increase last month, figures showed today.

Official retail sales figures for April rose by 0.3 per cent on the previous month - in line with analysts' forecasts.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) mean sales for the three months to March were 1.6 per cent higher than the previous three months.

Soaring levels of consumer debt have resulted in three interest rate rises over the past six months as the Bank of England attempts to rein in spending.

Today's figures will suggest this has done little to affect behaviour on the high street and will increase the chances of further rate hikes.

Clothing and footwear stores, as well as other non-food stores, were among those that saw the strongest increases in sales.

Growth in sales volumes for non-food stores continued to be significantly greater than for food stores. On a three-monthly basis, sales at non-food stores grew by 2 per cent, compared with 0.9 per cent for food stores.

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