U.K. retail sales rose unexpectedly in May, helped by warm weather that boosted online trading, though the squeeze on food spending caused by high inflation persisted.
Retail-sales volumes ticked up 0.3% on month, lower than the rise of 0.5% in April, data from the Office for National Statistics showed Friday. The reading was, however, stronger than expectations of a 0.2% fall from economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.
Non-store retailing sales were boosted by warm weather in the second half of the month, with volumes up by 2.7%, on strong sales by online retailers of outdoor related goods and summer clothing, the statistics agency said.
But food stores saw volumes decline 0.5%, impacted by rising food prices as well as a possible uptick in takeaways and fast food due to the extra Coronation bank holiday.
U.K. inflation for May held at 8.7%, while for food it was 18.7%, down only slightly from 19.3% in April.
Automotive fuel stores sales volumes rose by 1.7% in May, following a fall of the same amount in April, and volumes there remain 9.5% below their prepandemic levels, the ONS said.
Overall sales volumes rose 0.3% in the three months to May compared with the previous three months, but were still down 2.1% in May on year, the ONS said.