UK retail sales got an unexpected lift in the year to April, the CBI said today (28 April), in marked contrast to the heavy falls reported in March.

According to the CBI's latest Distributive Trades Survey, 44% of retailers said year-on-year sales volumes rose in the first half of April, while 41% said they were down.

The resulting balance of 3% was the highest figure since January 2008, when sales were up by 4%.

However, retailers do not expect this upswing to last into May, when they foresee declining sales again.

By sector, footwear and leather shops reported strong year-on-year growth. Wholesalers of clothing, textiles and footwear also reported modest growth.

Andy Clarke, chairman of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel, and chief operating officer of supermarket giant Asda, said: "The good turnout by shoppers over this year's later Easter may well have influenced the April retail figures."

But he cautioned that while they mark a respite "they should not be taken as an indication of a high street revival.

"With unemployment rising and growth in average earnings down, consumers remain very wary, and retailers themselves think that sales will drop again in May."