By Daniel Hunter

Retail sales grew 1.2% in April according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), three times faster than expected.

The ONS said sales were boosted by warmer weather in April as sales grew at their fastest pace since November 2014.

Analysts had predicted growth of just 0.4%.

There was a 5.2% rise in clothing, footwear and textiles sales between March and April - the biggest for four years.

The figures also give real indications of flat inflation taking effect. Whilst the value of sales were up 1.2%, sales volumes were up 4.7%.

Keith Richardson, Managing Director Retail Sector at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: "Fashion retailers took advantage of the sunniest April on record with sales of sandals, canvas shoes and denims all performing well, as they did for beauty products such as suncreams and tanning products. Consumers also continued to improve their homes, buying new furniture along with BBQs as shoppers sought to take advantage of the unseasonal warm weather."