Retail sales volumes remained flat in April, defying expectations of growth, according to a new survey.

The CBI’s latest monthly Distributive Trades Survey saw little sales growth from the Easter trading period, where sales volumes were broadly unchanged in the year to April.

Sales volumes were well below average for the time of year, to a much greater extent than expected, said the CBI.

Barry Williams, Asda’s chief merchandising officer for food, and chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Survey panel, said: “Retailers were frustrated by the ongoing stagnation in sales growth. This may be explained in part by the unseasonal weather we suffered, but there is no doubt that high street conditions are tricky with consumers lacking the confidence to go out and spend, as they still feel the pinch in their pocket.”

The survey, conducted between 26 March and 10 April, found 36% of firms reported that sales volumes were up on a year earlier, while 37% said they were down, giving a balance of -1%. This was the lowest balance since August 2012 (-3%).