Clothing and footwear sales rose 6.6% year on year by value and 7.1% by volume in May.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the value of retail sales across all sectors rose by 4.4% in May. Total sales rose by 2.2% in volume.
Commenting on the figures, British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson said: ”Sales revived in May as summer weather arrived and distortions caused by the timing of Easter ended. The sunnier second half of May, combined with discounts and promotions, encouraged spending on clothing [and] footwear.”
Richard Lowe, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays Corporate said: “Year on year the picture may appear more robust due to a comparatively tougher trading period in the first half of 2009. However, with little improvement in sales volumes since the end of last year, maintaining relative growth over the coming months will prove a continuing challenge for the sector.”
He added: “The sector is now entering a more demanding trading period with further headwinds anticipated in the second half of the year from a potential rise in VAT, inflation the Far East and commodity prices”.
Richard Lloyd-Owen, UK head of consumer business at Deloitte, commented: “Today’s figures from the ONS show retail sales increasing at a faster rate than expected during May. However, retailers will be under no illusions that they face challenging conditions.
“Many non-food retailers now face the dilemma that they are importing cost inflation but have a market which is not able or willing to absorb further price increases.”