The food and drink sector enjoyed a boost to sales in April thanks to the glorious weather, the Royal Wedding and the two bank holiday weekends.

New figures from the British Retail Consortium show total food sales returned to growth after March’s year-on-year decline brought on by the late Easter.

Food sales rose 2.1% on a like-for-like basis in the three months to April, up by 4.6% overall compared to the same period last year.

The Royal Wedding helped fuel alcohol sales, particularly Champagne, while other sparkling wines and party food also flew off the shelves. The hottest April on record also tempted shoppers to splash out on salads, soft fruit, barbecue foods and ice-cream.

Despite a rise in total retail sales of 5.2%, the BRC sounded a note of caution.

“These sales figures are a relief after the dire sales falls we saw in March but they are not the full picture,” said director general Stephen Robertson. “The underlying pressures on the retail sector of climbing costs and depressed consumer spending will be problems for many months to come.”

But Joanne Denney-Finch of the IGD insisted householders were not looking to compromise on quality.

“Our ShopperTrack research found more than eight out of 10 shoppers said they are prepared to pay a bit extra for premium groceries, such as locally produced, while many are thinking about shopping more locally to save petrol costs,” she said.

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Hot weather and royal nuptials behind record Easter for indies (7 May 2011)
Spot on! Morrisons rakes in the holiday spend (7 May 2011)