UK retail sales rose 0.8% on a like-for-like basis in May helped by warmer weather towards the end of the month according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

Total sales were up 3% against a 0.8% increase in May 2009 with clothing, outdoor DIY and leisure benefitting from the sunny weather.

Online and mail order sales were 21.9% higher than a year ago and up from a 15.9% rise in April, this was however against relatively weak growth in May 2009.

Food sales also improved after April’s distorted fall due to an early Easter. Big ticket items meanwhile continued to struggle, despite a raft of discounts and promotions, due to uncertainty about job and income prospects.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “The sunnier second half of May provided a welcome boost to overall sales. The warmer weather combined with discounts and promotions encouraged spending on clothing, footwear, outdoor DIY and gardening.

“The run-up to the World Cup helped sales of televisions, though this was largely discount-driven.  With the tournament getting closer, there should be a further uplift and to other football merchandise such as flags and replica kits. After April’s dip, food sales growth returned to more normal levels.”

He added: “Consumer confidence has clearly improved since last year’s lows. But there’s still plenty of uncertainty, which is making customers nervous about buying expensive goods, such as furniture, despite widespread reductions. This month’s emergency Budget should provide more clarity.”