UK sales slightly increase by 0.7% in May

UK total retail sales increased by 0.7% year on year in May, against a growth of 3.9% in May 2023.

This was above the 3-month average growth of 0.3% and below the 12-month average growth of 2.0%.

Food sales increased 3.6% year on year over the three months to May, compared to 9.6% in May 2023, which is below the 12-month average growth of 6.4%.

However, non-food sales decreased 2.4% year on year over the three-months to May, which is steeper than the 12-month average decline of 1.7%.

In-store non-food sales over the three months to May decreased 2.7% year on year, while online non-food sales increased by 1.5% in May, against an average decline of 3% in May 2023.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Despite a strong bank holiday weekend for retailers, minimal improvement to weather across most of May meant only a modest rebound in retail sales last month.

“With an election only four weeks away, retailers stand ready to collaborate with the next government to unlock economic potential, benefiting customers, employees, and communities alike.Retail really is the “everywhere economy”, and with the right policy environment can use its scale and reach to support public policy goals.”

Linda Ellett, UK head of consumer, retail and leisure, KPMG, said: “Whilst sales growth was minimal, it could point to some signs of recovery for the sector, and retailers will be eager for that trend to continue as they carefully maintain their pricing, stock and cost base.

“Over the coming weeks retailers will be hoping that warmer weather, purchases related to summer holiday demand and Euro 2024 provide a stimulus to get consumers buying again. The economy may be improving, but the health of the sector remains fragile, with major investment held back by many until there are clear signs that consumer confidence has turned into spending.”

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