Retail sales confounded predictions by rising 0.4% in May, with household goods doing especially well.
All sectors except textiles, clothing and footwear enjoyed an increase. Household products were particularly strong, up 2.9%, partly because of an increase in sales of DIY products. The previous month saw sales decline 3.2%.
The Office for National Statistics figures also show that May’s retail sales were 3.9% higher than a year ago and that over the three months to May sales were up 4.4% on the same period in 2006.
Meanwhile, figures from research group SPSL show that in terms of shopper numbers May was a relatively quiet month. SPSL’s Retail Traffic Index reveals a slight year-on-year increase of 0.8% against May 2006 but a fall of 4.5% of April’s figure. SPSL says the exceptionally wet weather was probably to blame.