Retail sales dip for first time this year despite World Cup
Retail sales dipped last month for the first time since January but are still enjoying the longest period of sustained growth since before the recession, official data showed.
Volumes were down 0.5% compared with April – as expected – following a strong Easter, despite a boost in sales at sports stores ahead of the World Cup.
But the figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed sales in the latest three months were up 1.3% on the previous period.
The ONS said this was the 15th consecutive month of quarter-on-quarter improvement – the longest stretch of expansion since November 2007.
Volumes were up 3.9% year-on-year, the figures showed. The amount spent online increased 1.5% over the month and 15.1% compared with May last year.
However, one economist said much of the retail sales growth was driven by aggressive discounting, pointing to data showing store prices were down 0.7% on the year in May.
The figures also revealed that medium-sized retailers were doing less well.
While larger and smaller companies increased sales by value year-on-year, those with 40 to 99 employees saw a 19.2% fall.
Overall in May, £27.8bn was spent in the retail industry, equivalent to £7bn a week, but average prices in non-food stores, which include clothing retailers, were down.