Surprise surge in UK retail sales powers pound to eight-month high

Stronger-than-expected rise defies predictions of slowdown in consumer spending as UK pay squeeze continues

A surprise surge in retail sales in April helped push the pound to its highest level in eight months as Britain’s consumers shrugged off concerns over falling living standards.

Warm weather and the Easter holidays encouraged shoppers back onto UK high streets, with retail sales up 2.3% over the month according to the Office for National Statistics. It was more than double the 1% rise forecast by economists, and the biggest monthly rise since January 2016.

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