READ MORERetail sales volume including auto fuel, grew 1.3% month-on-month, following April's revised 1.8% increase, figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed Thursday. This was the second consecutive rise and much bigger than the expected 0.5%.
Sales excluding auto fuel, climbed 1.3% versus an increase of 1.4% a month ago. Sales were expected to grew marginally by 0.3%.
Data showed that food store sales gained 1.1% and non-food store sales increased 0.7% in May.
In three months to May, retail sales climbed only 0.9% from the previous three months.
The ONS said feedback from retailers suggested that a sustained period of good weather and Royal Wedding celebrations encouraged spending in food and household goods stores in May.
Looking ahead, with real wages on the up again, employment still rising at a robust pace and consumer confidence high by past standards, consumer spending growth looks set to gather further momentum later this year, Ruth Gregory, an economist at Capital Economics, said.
Year-on-year, overall retail sales growth advanced to 3.9% in May from 1.4% in April. Sales were forecast to climb 2.4%. A similar faster growth was last seen in April 2017.
Excluding auto fuel, retail sales increased 4.4% after expanding 1.4% a month ago. This was also much bigger than the expected 2.5%. ■