The rise is partly due to the entire Easter weekend falling in April, whereas in 2010, only Easter Sunday and Monday were within the month.
On a total basis, sales for the month were up 6.9 per cent, against a 0.2 per cent decrease in April 2010.
Non-food non-store sales also grew during April and were 13.7 per cent higher than a year ago, recovering from the unexpected small 7.5 per cent increase in the month of March. If you look at the two months together, underlying growth was was similar to earlier this year.
Stephen Robertson, director general, British Retail Consortium, said: "Easter and the Royal Wedding bank holiday provided a badly needed boost to many retailers during April.
“These sales figures are a relief after the dire sales falls we saw in March but they are not the full picture. The numbers are being compared with an April last year which was a time of uncertainty ahead of the General Election, and which didn’t include the main Easter trading period.
“Considered together, the results for March and April largely cancel each other out and the overall trend is flat. The underlying pressures on the retail sector of climbing costs and depressed consumer spending will be problems for many months to come.
"The Bank’s decision to maintain the freeze on interest rates was the right one and it’s important we see the economy performing much more strongly before there is any change in future.”
Helen Dickinson, head of retail, KPMG, added: “As expected, the combination of a late Easter, dry and sunny weather, and the Royal Wedding feel good factor, has provided a very welcome respite in a challenging retail trading environment.
"Most sectors showed a significant uplift on the prior year. The question now is whether this is indicative of a corner having been turned from the longer term downward trend in demand.
"Given the three-month average is still heading in a downward direction with 1.8 per cent total and 0.1 per cent sales growth for February to April compared to 2.7 per cent total and 0.8 per cent for the three months to January, this is unlikely to be case. Hence, the majority of retailers remain cautious about the outlook for the remainder of the year."