UK retail sales values were up 1.8% on a like-for-like basis from May 2012, when they had increased 1.3% on the preceding year.
Figures released by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG in their monthly Retail Sales Monitor show that the total growth was above the three-month average of 2.3% and the long-term 12-month average of 2.5%.
On a total basis, sales were up 3.4%, against a 3.4% increase in May 2012.
Helen Dickinson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: "Retailers pulled off a good result in May despite contending with topsy-turvy temperatures and continued economic difficulties. The first month since February to be free of Easter timing distortions showed positive total growth in every category and overall growth well above the twelve-month average.”
"May was a month of two halves for weather, meaning that retailers had to stay one step ahead when planning their promotional activity. The signs are that temporary discounts and offers worked well to tempt shoppers into stores and clear some of the stock that had been slow to sell during the preceding months. This strategy paid off particularly well for furniture and flooring, May's best-performing category. Meanwhile, seasonal fashions returned to form when sunshine set in early in May, but growth slumped with temperatures in the second half of the month.”
"The signs are that retailers read conditions well in May and adapted their offer accordingly. Customers are still price-conscious but responding well to good deals, especially for big-ticket items. But volatile economic conditions mean that this will remain a delicate balancing act for some time to come."