Warm weather and a royal wedding spark spending spree in May

UK retail sales in May posted the highest growth since January 2014 as the warm weather and royal wedding lifted spirits and tempted Brits back into stores.

According to the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), like-for-like sales increased by 2.8% year on year in May, up from a 4.2% dip in the previous month, and marking the fastest pace of growth since April 2017.

On a total basis, sales increased 4.1% in May, against an increase of 0.2% in May 2017. This is above the 3-month and 12-month averages of 1.2% and 1.5% respectively and the highest increase since January 2014, when not including Easter distortions.

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Online sales of non-food products lifted by 11.9% in May, against an easy comparable growth of 4.3% in May 2017.

BRC chief executive officer, Helen Dickinson, shares: “Retail sales in May saw their highest growth since January 2014 as better weather and the bank holiday effect led shoppers to buy from garden furniture and summer fashion ranges; recovering some of the ground lost in April. Food sales also stood out with the best single month’s performance since July 2013. Encouragingly, growth was seen across channels as stores made a comeback with their best showing in 16 months.

Experts reveal the royal wedding and the FA Cup Final got the nation in a mood of celebration, with spending increasing during the lead up to May 19. However, on the day itself the events were a distraction as shoppers spent the day watching the festivities.

Looking ahead, Dickinson warns: “Despite this more positive set of sales results, the retail environment remains extremely challenging, with trend growth still very low by historical standards. Retailers remain focused on investing in new and exciting shopping experiences for the future as margins remain tight and the competition fierce.”

Paul Martin, head of retail at, KPMG adds: “While the month’s figures may paint a rosier picture, there is no room for complacency. The market is increasingly being split into winners and losers, with a number of legacy players continuing to face extremely challenging conditions. As such, focusing on transforming businesses both operationally and financially is pivotal.”

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