UK retail sales in May were up 0.5% on a like-for-like basis from May 2013, when they had increased 1.8% on the preceding year.
According to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor sales were up 2.0%, on a total basis, against a 3.4% rise in May 2013.
Clothing was the best performing category, reporting its highest growth since December 2011, while Food was the lowest, reporting a decline in total terms.
The 3-month average year-on-year change for Food was -0.2% in total, turning negative for the first time since our record began in 2008, excluding Easter distortions. For Non-Food, the 3-month average was 4.3%, ahead of the 12-month trend of 3.8%.
Online sales of non-food products in the UK grew 17.0% in May versus a year earlier. The Non-Food online penetration rate was 18.7% in May, the second highest recorded, after last November.
Helen Dickinson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: "Customers took advantage of great summer fashion ranges and clothing sales had their best results since December 2011, performing better than any other category."
The BRC said there was also a strong momentum in big ticket sales such as consoles and televisions as shoppers felt confident enough in the economy to make purchases that had been on hold, waiting for economic recovery.
Meanwhile, food sales fell by an annual rate of 2.2% on a like-for-like basis from March to May as the major supermarkets cut prices to maintain their market share.
When measured on a total basis, food sales dropped by 0.2% which meant they turned negative for the first time since the BRC’s records began in 2008, excluding Easter distortions.