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UK retail sales recording a surprise bounce in April, growing 1.4% as higher spending on fuel, alcohol and tobacco booster overall figures.

Overall retail sales volumes for the month rose by 1.4% in April 2022 following a fall of 1.2% in March 2022 (revised from a fall of 1.4%), according to the Office of National Statistics.

This means sales volumes remained 4.1% above their pre-coronavirus February 2020 levels.

Sales values rose by 10% reflecting annual implied inflation of 9%.

Food store sales volumes rose by 2.8% in April 2022, mostly because of higher spending on alcohol and tobacco in supermarkets, the ONS found. Supermarket food sales were broadly unchanged.

Non-store retailing sales volumes, which are predominantly sales from online-only retailers, rose by 3.7% in April 2022 led by stronger clothing sales.

Automotive fuel sales volumes rose by 1.4% in April 2022 following a fall of 4.2% in March when record increases in petrol prices impacted sales.

More broadly, in the three months to April 2022, sales volumes fell by 0.3% when compared with the previous three months, which continues the downward trend since summer 2021.

The ONS found that the proportion of retail sales online rose to 27% in April 2022 from 25.9% in March and remains substantially higher than the 19.9% in February 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic.

Morning update

The escalating cost-of-living crisis continues to punish consumers, according to GFK’s latest monthly consumer confidence figures.

Its long-running index decreased two points to -40 in May, the lowest score since records began in 1974.

Four measures were down in comparison to the April 22nd announcement, and one was up.

The index measuring changes in personal finances over the last 12 months decreased three points to -22, while the forecast for personal finances over the next 12 months has increased one point to -25; which is 35 points lower than this time last year.

The measure for the general economic situation of the country during the last 12 months is down three points at -63.

Expectations for the general economic situation over the coming 12 months have dropped by one point to -56 – now is 60 points lower than May 2021.

Joe Staton, client strategy director, GfK commented :s: “May’s result is one point lower than the previous record set in July 2008 when the headline score plunged to -39. This means consumer confidence is now weaker than in the darkest days of the global banking crisis, the impact of Brexit on the economy, or the Covid shutdown. Consumer pessimism is most evident in depressed sub-measures on the general economy at -63 for the past year and -56 for the coming year.

“Even the Bank of England is pessimistic, with Governor Andrew Bailey this week offering no hope of tackling inflation. The outlook for consumer confidence is gloomy, and nothing on the economic horizon shows a reason for optimism any time soon.”

Logistics player Wincanton has posted full year revenue growth of 16.3% to £1.4bn, with a strong growth with profits ahead of pre-pandemic levels.

Organic revenue growth was up 19.4% excluding disposals and Cygnia Logistics acquisition in September 2021

Its grocery & consumer division saw “record” volumes, while general merchandise operations strengthened by automation and robotics solutions for the Kingfisher Group including Screwfix.

Its eFulfilment proposition wasstrengthened by successful integration of Cygnia Logistics and investment in automation and innovation.

Underlying profit before tax was up 23.1% to £58.1m, an increase of 10% on pre-pandemic levels.

It said inflationary headwinds were mitigated by management actions on costs and contract mix. Less than 30% of group revenue from closed book contracts, it noted.

The group said it remained well positioned to maintain its positive performance, driven by ongoing investment in the business and continued progress against its strategy.

CEO James Wroath commented: “Wincanton has delivered another strong set of results, with growth across all four sectors leading to a substantial increase in revenue and profit ahead of pre-pandemic levels.

“We have invested behind our strategy, particularly in eCommerce [and] continue to develop automation solutions and robotic technologies to create supply chains that are efficient, agile and resilient. This approach, coupled with Wincanton’s longstanding reputation for high quality service delivery enabled us to secure a number of high-profile new contracts and extensions.

“While mindful about the macro-economic headwinds facing our sector, we are confident in the growth opportunities we have ahead of us and in our continued ability to deliver our strategy successfully.”

Shopping technology player Eagle Eye has said it has posted a “continued positive trading performance” since the release of interim results in March.

A notable development in the period is the go live of the national US grocer, announced in January 2022. As a result, the board now anticipates revenues and adjusted EBITDA for the year ending 30 June 2022 will be ahead of current market expectations by approximately 7% and 10% respectively.

Eagle Eye said it has benefitted in the year from significant new customer wins across multiple geographies, the accelerated ability to take these customers live, deepening with existing customers and the impact of lifting COVID restrictions.

CEO Tim Mason said: “We are delighted to have taken one of the largest grocery retailers in the US live on the AIR platform so quickly, providing us with another fantastic demonstration of the relevance of our combined offering with Neptune in this substantial market.

“Our ability to deliver personalised, 1:1 marketing at scale is resonating with retailers around the world, as they seek to accelerate their digital marketing strategies.

“This successful go live and growing momentum in the business, combined with the underlying strength of our SaaS metrics and record new business pipeline, all combine to underpin the board’s confidence in our outperformance in the current year and prospects for sustained growth.”

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 has rebounded 1.4% to 7,406pts after yesterday’s fall.

THG shares have jumped 25.8% this morning on the news it is considering bids for the company thought to be worth £2bn.

Other risers include Deliveroo, up 5.3% to 94.7p, Just Eat, up 4.3% to 1,738.6p and DS Smith, up 3.5% to 303.5p.

Fallers include Virgin Wines, down 5.3% to 90p, Glanbia, down 1.6% to €11.11 and Finsbury Food Group, down 1.3% to 69.1p. 

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 endured another slump yesterday, falling back 1.8% to 7,302.7pts.

FeverTree ended the day defying market gravity, rising 1.4% to 1,544p after making a “solid” start to its new financial year.

Grocery fallers included Virgin Wines, down 5.9% to 95p, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, down 5.4% to €47.30, C&C Group, down 5.4% to 196.5p, Diageo, down 5.1% to 3,570p, Kerry Group, down 4.4% to €94.22, Hotel Chocolat, down 4.3% to 342.5p, Unilever, down 3.9% to 3,451.5p, McBride, down 3.6% to 3,451.5p and Tate & Lyle, down 2.8% to 740p.

Other risers included Just eat, up 4.6% to 1,666.4p, Ocado, up 2.1% to 543p, Cranswick, up 0.6% to 3,054p, Pets at Home, up 0.4% to 279p and Greencore, up 0.3% to 105.5p.