Retail sales staged an unexpected bounce-back last month, more than regaining the ground lost in an equally unexpected dive in March.
But seasonally adjusted sales have still not got back to where they were in November and National Statistics pointed out that the underlying growth is far less than it was in the first half of last year.
Sales rose by 0.5 per cent between March and April, with food shops setting the pace. Only department stores and other "non-specialised" shops failed to share in the recovery.
It followed a revised 0.3 per cent setback in March and a standstill in February.
These muted numbers contrasted sharply with a buoyant report from Touchwood shopping centre in Solihull, where the general manager, Andrew Parkinson, claimed a "fabulous start" to 2005.
The earliest Easter in 16 years saw the "footfall" of shoppers visiting Touchwood up by 2.5 per cent.
Parkinson said: "Numbers visiting the award-winning shopping centre have continued to rise."
Taking the national sales for the latest three months, the volume of sales was 0.2 per cent ahead of November/January.
The same comparison a year earlier showed a 1.5 per cent gain.
Indeed, the progress was confined to supermarkets and other food shops. They showed a 0.4 per cent gain on the previous three months, while non-food stores were 0.2 per cent down.