Brits did not let poor weather, referendum nerves or weak confidence stop them from hitting the shops last month.
Retail sales volumes were 4.3 per cent higher in April than last year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), as falling prices brought shoppers out in their droves. Over the month, sales were up by 1.3 per cent compared to March.
"British shoppers hit the stores again in April … consumer spending remains relatively resilient in the face of uncertainty around the EU referendum," said PwC's John Hawksworth.
A total of £28.1bn was spent in shops during the four-week period that counts as April, up from £27.6bn in April 2015, the ONS said.
The strong figures put some steam behind the pound, which had already surged against the dollar yesterday in response to a poll which showed the Remain side took an 18-point lead in the EU referendum campaign. Sterling was up 0.3 per cent on the day to $1.4646, despite signals that the US Federal Reserve could be set to hike interest rates when it meets next month.
The British Chambers of Commerce suggested that the strong performance of the consumer sector raised yet further question marks over the state of the UK economy.
"The contrast between buoyant retail sales and the problems facing other sectors such as manufacturing highlights the unbalanced nature of Britain’s recovery," said the group's chief economist David Kern.
However, the ONS figures are contested by some in the retail industry, who prefer to look at numbers from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) for a gauge of goings-on in the retail sector.
In a long-running dispute between different camps of wonks and statisticians, retail analyst Nick Bubb said today the figures came from "that bizarre parallel world, the planet ONS … In the real world, it was, of course, a disappointing month".
It also follows a spate of bad figures from retailers and warnings from the likes of Next that current trading conditions are as bad as they were in 2008.
Buoyant consumer spending is expected to provide some steam behind the UK economy in the second quarter of the year, and stands in contrast to a number of other surveys which pointed to a marked slowdown ahead of the EU referendum.