UK retail sales rise 1.4% in May
UK retail sales volumes rose 1.4% in May from April, slightly ahead of analysts' forecasts.
Sales had slumped 2.3% in April, thanks to the wet weather and consumers panic-buying petrol in March.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said sales of clothes and shoes had boosted volumes in May.
A monthly rise of 1.2% had been expected. Analysts said the ONS data tied in with sales figures reported by retailers in recent weeks.
On a year-on-year basis, sales volumes were up 2.4% in May, the latest figures showed.
Sales by value rose 1% on the month and 3.3% on the year.'Optimistic'
Bryan Roberts, from Kantar Retail, told the BBC that the annual figures showed "decent growth".
"That ties in with the numbers we've had this week from the likes of Argos, who said things were getting less bad, and Dixons Retail this morning who said that the final quarter of their year was really quite encouraging.
"I'm pretty optimistic based on these latest figures that things are getting better," he said.
He added that discounting had been an important factor in some sectors such as electricals and furniture, and that retailers were still having to work hard to get shoppers to part with their money.
Department store sales appear to have been driven by discounting. Sales volumes were up 11.3% compared with May 2011 - the biggest rise in more than a decade - while prices fell 2% over the same period.