May’s retail sales jump continues positive UK data run

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UK retail sales jumped by more than expected last month, official figures show, after being bolstered by supermarket discounting and online business.

Data published by the Office for National Statistics shows retail sales volumes and values were up 2.1 per cent month-on-month in May. This followed the 1.1 per cent slump caused by April’s bad weather.

The food sector drove most the rise, with , the quantity of goods bought increasing by 3.5 per cent and the amount spent increased by 3.4 per cent compared with April. This was the strongest gain in two years, helped by supermarket promotions over the month.

In addition, non-store retailing, which includes online business, was up by 4.3 per cent with online accounting for 9.7 per cent of all retail revenue.

Capital Economics UK economist Martin Beck says: “Continuing a recent run of good economic news, May’s rise in the official measure of retail sales will have partly reflected the fading drag from the unusually cold weather seen earlier in the year. But the underlying retail picture appears to be strengthening.”

IHS Global Insight chief UK and European economist Howard Archer says: “The 2.1 per cent jump in retail sales in May is a seriously good performance, even seen in the context of following on from an appreciable drop in April when sales were held back by cold weather.

“Indeed, even if retail sales volumes were only flat in June, they would still have expanded 0.7 per cent quarter-on-quarter in the second quarter, which bodes well for second quarter GDP growth hopes.”