UK retail like-for-likes in May were up 1.3% as warm weather drove sales, according to British Retail Consortium (BRC) KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.
Total sales rose 3.4% against a 0.3% decline in May last year when the weather was much cooler.
Sales of food and drink as well as clothing and footwear benefitted from the warm spell after a wet start to the month. But big ticket items continued to struggle, as shoppers kept a tight rein on spending.
Online sales of non-food items returned to normal levels in May, rising 12.4%. Mobile devices continued to deliver the sharpest growth.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “Much of the month’s positive performance can be attributed to spending in the final week [of May] when consumers responded enthusiastically to the sun coming out.
“It’s likely the prolonged wet period helped create pent-up demand and people also felt more relaxed about their spending as the sun created a feelgood boost.”
Food sales increased 0.4% on a like-for-like basis in the three months to the end of May as shoppers turned to seasonal produce.
Consumers swapped home baking products, potatoes and stewing meats for salads, fruits, ice-cream and barbeque foods. Non-alcoholic beverages, wines, beers and spirits also sold “very well”.
IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch said food retailers will be hoping this sales momentum will continue due to the summer events.
She said: “The unique coincidence of the Jubilee, Euro 2012 and the Olympics occurring back-to-back could engender a real sense of patriotism this summer and a boost for locally sourced products.”
There was “considerable growth” across clothing, with children’s clothing performing the best as it stood against weak comparatives. Women’s clothing hit the strongest sales levels of the year so far and men’s clothing was also up on last year.
Footwear sales were stronger than clothing as warmer weather boosted sales.
DIY and gardening retailers saw an increase in sales of outdoor furniture, barbeques and gardening equipment due to the sunny weather, while the wet weather meant sales of lawnmowers and gardening tools increased.
KPMG head of retail Helen Dickinson said: “No sector put in a star performance, but a focus on spending on children was evident and childrenswear saw a double-digit uplift in sales.
“Businesses in the home-related sectors, where good weather runs counter to strong performance, found the going much tougher. Those not selling big-ticket home-related items are hoping the sun stays out all summer long.”