The UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that the volume of retail sales in the country fell by 1.4% between April and May.

Average total retail sale volumes over April and May combined were up by 7.7% compared with March. In May, retail sales volumes were 24.6% higher than they were a year prior.

Sale volumes in food stores saw the highest decline, at 5.7% during May.

During the month, sales in non-food stores increased by 2.3%. Household goods stores, including hardware and furniture stores, and ‘other’ non-food stores reported the largest growths, of 9.0% and 7.7% respectively.

The ONS data also showed that online retail sales fell from 29.8% in April to 28.5% in May.

British Retail Consortium (BRC) chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Retailers reported an increase in purchasing over browsing, suggesting shopping trips were becoming more purposeful.

“Furniture and floor covering sales continued to perform well as consumers took the opportunity to try things in-store, while even clothing and footwear saw continued growth thanks to the warmer weather and easing of restrictions on meeting friends and relatives.

“Consumer confidence appears to be rising fast thanks to both the widespread vaccination and testing programme and the extensive measures taken by retailers.

“The changes caused by the pandemic are being bolstered by a fundamental transformation in consumer behaviour which started long before Covid.

“Internet sales continued to rise, albeit at a reduced pace, supported by the massive investment in digital channels, logistics operations, and click-and-collect options.

“This has ensured that UK consumers continue to benefit from a world-leading shopping experience, whether they are in their homes or their high streets.”

Last month, the BRC and Sensormatic IQ shared data revealing a drop in UK footfall for the month of April compared to two years prior.

The data, which covered the four weeks from 4 April to 1 May, showed a 28.7% improvement from the previous month, as well as being above the three-month average decline of 59.2%.