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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 June 2006, 09:28 GMT 10:28 UK
Warmer weather boosts retailers
Shoppers on Oxford Street in London
Retailers are enjoying mixed fortunes
Warmer weather in May helped boost activity on the High Street, official figures have shown.

Sales for the three months to the end of May rose 1%, according to the Office for National Statistics, after showing no growth over the previous period.

Sales of clothes and other non-food items rose 1.2% as retailers breathed a sigh of relief at spring's arrival.

Strong sales of flat-screen TVs ahead of the World Cup also gave electrical goods retailers a shot in the arm.

Mixed fortunes

Retailers have begun to recover after a sluggish start to the year, but the picture on the High Street remains mixed.

Woolworths and House of Fraser reported falling sales earlier this week, although other retailers, including John Lewis and Tesco, have reported stronger trading figures.

We suspect this could well prove to be a temporary burst of energy from consumers,
Howard Archer, chief economist Global Insight

On a monthly basis, May saw a 0.5% rise in sales, as against a 0.7% increase the previous month. Compared with a year ago, sales in the three months to May rose 3.2%.

Many retailers are reporting difficult trading conditions as consumers, burdened with higher utility bills, have been cautious.

DIY retailers, in particular, have suffered, with companies such as Homebase and B&Q reporting weak sales.

One economist said he expected consumer spending to remain subdued in the coming months as pressures on household incomes mounted.

"Consumers have clearly livened up recently, after hibernating in the first quarter of the year," said Howard Archer, chief economist at Global Insight.

"Nevertheless, we suspect this could well prove to be a temporary burst of energy from consumers, as significant problems remain regarding their longer-term health."

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