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Sun boosts shop sales but experts warn it won't last

Shop sales returned to growth last month after being boosted by record-breaking sunny weather, a report has said.

Like-for-like sales increased by 5.2% in April after a decline of 3.5% the previous month as customers splurged on barbecue food and outdoor clothing, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

The figures were also lifted by the Royal wedding and the late Easter holiday season, which partly fell in March the previous year.

But the higher sales are not expected to continue and more problems lie in store for the high street, warned the BRC.

The feeble state of the economy means nervous consumers are expected to return to their previous habit of reining in spending on all but essential items.

Shops have struggled in recent months to pass on rapidly rising costs at a time when consumers seek out special offers and bargains. Household spending power is facing its biggest squeeze since the 1920s amid Government cutbacks and a depressed jobs market. BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: "Easter and the Royal wedding provided a badly-needed boost to many retailers during April.

"These sales figures are a relief after the dire sales falls we saw in March, but are not the full picture.

"The underlying pressures on the retail sector of climbing costs and depressed consumer spending will be problems for many months to come."

Internet sales increased 13.7% - nearly double the 7.5% shown in March but still below the rate a year ago.