Page last updated at 23:01 GMT, Monday, 8 June 2009 00:01 UK

Retail sales take a knock in May

Food on a barbecue
Warm weather in late May boosted sales of barbecue foods, the BRC says

UK retail sales fell in May from a year earlier as hard-up consumer steered clear of buying big-ticket items, industry data has shown.

The British Retail Consortium said the value of like-for-like sales fell 0.8% after a 4.6% rise in April.

The BRC said the Easter boost had proved hard to sustain.

However, it said warm weather at the end of May had boosted sales of hot-weather foods like salads and outdoor products like gardening tools.

"The turnaround in sales of big-ticket items such as furniture and large electricals, which would indicate real change in the mood of customers, still eludes us," said Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium.

Better figures expected

The BRC said food sales rose, particularly as hot sunny weather as the end of May bolstered sales of salads and fresh fruit, barbecue foods, ice cream and beers, wines and soft drinks.

However, sales of clothing, footwear and furniture fell.

"We might have expected better figures as, while there are consumers struggling financially due to actual, or the prospect of, job losses, there are also those with greater disposable income due to lower mortgage payments, easing inflation and lower fuel costs," said Helen Dickinson, head of retail at consultants at KPMG.

"It remains to be seen when those who have cash to spare will feel confident to start spending again," she added.

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