UK retail like-for-like sales rose 1.8% in May, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC)-KMPG Retail Sales Monitor. Retail Week drills down into how each of the individual categories performed. 

  • Furniture and flooring enjoyed a successful May, with the sector ranking as the best-performing category for the first time since January 2011. The BRC said that the changeable weather drove sales of home improvement products. Sofas and flat-packs were cited as popular items. 
  • Within the food category, the sunny weather over the first May Bank Holiday helped drive sales of barbecue meats, charcoal, picnic snacks, soft drink mixers and ice-cream. Ready meals, pizza, beer and fresh snacks saw growth, thanks to the colder weather and the end of the football season later in the month.
  • Clothing enjoyed a good performance in May, with the sun at the beginning of the month encouraging shoppers to buy swimwear and snap up clothes for their summer wardrobes.  However, as the cold weather crept back in, they turned to buying knitwear in the clearance sales.
  • The BRC said premium beauty products, particularly fragrances, enjoyed a successful May as a result of strong promotional activity by retailers.
  • Home accessories enjoyed a better month compared to April, as a result of the ‘stay-at-home’ trend, which benefited furniture. Still, it remained the worst performing category. Bed linens and cushions were cited as some of the bestselling items from the house textiles category.
  • The ‘other’ non-food category, which includes toys, DIY/gardening and electricals, was the second-best performing category for the month. The sunny weather over the first Bank Holiday gave garden products a boost while ball games also sold well.
  • Online sales rose 11% compared to May 2012, when they had increased by 12.4%. Clothing and footwear were the best performing online categories after health & beauty. Womens’ footwear was the best performing category at full price, with sandals and ballerinas performing particularly well.