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Food sales increased 2.4% on a like-for-like basis and 3.6% on a total basis in the past 12 weeks, boosted by the Easter break, the BRC – KPMG Retail Sales Monitor April 2017 has revealed.

This was faster growth than the 12-month total average growth of 2% and the highest since February 2014.

Overall in April UK retail sales increased by 5.6% on a like-for-like basis from April 2016, when it decreased 0.9% from the preceding year.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC, said that the positive distortion from the timing of Easter was largely responsible for the growth. But she added that looking to the longer-term signs of a slowdown “the outlook isn’t as rosy”.

“Food categories continue to contribute the most weight to overall growth, although food inflation has a part to play in this. Meanwhile, consumers are being more cautious in their spending towards non-food products and focussing more on value priced lines,” she said.

Morning update

There’s little other news of note on the markets this morning in what looks to be a fairly quiet week in the City.

The FTSE 100 has started the day up 0.4% to 7,326.3pts.

Some of the early gainers include PureCircle (PURE), up 3.1% to 335p, Applegreen (APGN), up 1.7% to 405.7p, Real Good Food (RGD), up 1.4% to 37p and FeverTree Drinks (FEVR), up 1.1% to 1,659.3p.

Early losers today include Glanbia (GLB), down 2% to €18.62, Science in Sport (SIS), down 1.8% to 82p, PayPoint (PAY), down 1.6% to 1,014p and McColl’s Retail Group (MCLS), down 1.5% to 199.8p.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 had a solid if unspectacular start to the week, edging up 0.1% to 7,300.9pts.

After its falls last week following its third consecutive annual profits drop, Sainsbury’s (SBRY) was one of the FTSE’s better performers, rising 1.7% to 269.5p.

There were also strong gains at fellow FTSE 100 fmcg/grocery firms Unilever (ULVR), up 1.6% to 4,050p, Marks & Spencer (MKS), up 1.4% to 280.6p and Associated British Foods (ABF), up 1% to 2,800p.

Other risers yesterday included Nichols (NICL), up 3.2% to 1,775p, Distil (DIS), up 2.5 to 3.1p, Marston’s (MARS), up 2.2% to 146p and Dairy Crest (DCG), up 1.2% to 594.5p.

Premier Foods was unchanged at 43p despite the significance of it retaining its licence to make Cadbury cakes, which accounts for around 8% of its sales.

Fallers included Hotel Chocolat (HOTC), down 4.6% to 365p, Just Eat (JE), down 3.6% to 556.5p, Stock Spirits (STCK), down 2.9% to 165.3p, Majestic WINE (WINE), down 1.9% to 384p and Science in Sport (SIS), down 1.8% to 83.5p.