Retail sales dipped again in May, after growing in March and April.

Like-for-like sales fell 1.5 per cent, according to the BDO Stoy Hayward High Street Sales Tracker.

The report said this was a “relatively strong performance” given the current economic environment, and that it indicates that “consumer spending is still holding up surprisingly well”.

The report said the figure was “very encouraging” when taking into account that May 2008 was the strongest month of last year, meaning the month was up against strong comparitives.

Fashion retailers experienced a like-for-like decline of 3.4 per cent, up against tough comparitives for last year. The report found that a reduction in promotional activity and strong competition from department stores contributed to this decrease.

Footwear and formalwear performed worst, while seasonal womenswear performed best.

Non-fashion like-for-likes increased 5 per cent in May. The demand for luxury goods continued to be “very positive”, while sales in leisure and gifts improved. Demand for small-ticket gifts remained “especially solid”, whereas health and beauty sales remained flat.

Homewares continued to struggle, with like-for-likes down 7.2 per cent. Big-ticket items were “especially weak” in May, despite an increase in promotional activity. Homewares retailers have only achieved one positive month of sales in the past 12 months.

BDO Stoy Hayward head of retail Rupert Eastell said: “Despite some tentative signs that the economy is starting to improve, retailers are still finding life on the high street especially tough.

“However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Great products coupled with the warmer weather have meant that many retailers are continuing to outperform the poor expectations assumed at the start of the year. Although we would caution against calling the bottom of the market, these results bode well for the remainder of 2009.”