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Retail sales rose by a better-than-expected 1.6% in April as consumers resumed spending after cold weather earlier in the year.

However, the Office for National Statistics said the sector remained broadly subdued, and analysts described the underlying trend was "lacklustre".

In the three months to April, sales rose 0.1% on the previous quarter, with a 4.7% surge in petrol sales after the travel disruption caused by snow in March.

"Retail sales bounced back in April, as petrol and other sales recovered from the snowfall. But the underlying position remains subdued with the volume of goods sold over the last six months broadly unchanged," said Rob Kent-Smith of the ONS.

"Department stores declined following relatively strong sales last month, when their online sales were boosted during the adverse weather.

"Over the longer-term, retail sales growth has slowed considerably, with increases in food, household goods and internet retailers being largely offset by declines across all other types of retailing."

Online continued to take a bigger slice of spending, up from 16.1% last April to 17.3%, with both food and clothing stores achieving record online proportions.

In March, sales had fallen by 1.8% and recorded their biggest quarterly fall in seven years.