Retail sales growth in the UK continues to remain low despite the May 2023 bank holidays, data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) revealed.

Retail sales were 3.9% higher in May compared with the prior year but 5% lower than in April 2023.

Last month, high street sales were driven by health, beauty and food retailers.

Sales for food and drink were driven by double-digit inflation over the four weeks to 23 May.

Volume sales were marginally negative, although events tied to the coronation of King Charles III led to a brief growth.

Total sales for online retailers dropped by 3%, with only four categories recording positive sales over the month.

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BRC CEO Helen Dickinson OBE said: “The trio of bank holidays failed to get shoppers spending as sales growth slowed to its lowest level in six months. While food sales got a boost from the Coronation weekend, this was not sustained for the rest of the month.

“Meanwhile, growth in discretionary spending continued to tumble as the high cost of living squeezed households. There was cause for some optimism, however, as brighter weather at the end of the month led to a much-needed pick-up in summer fashion sales, as well as gardening and DIY products.

“With consumer confidence still recovering from record depths and continued tightening of household incomes, we are unlikely to see substantial sales growth in the coming months.

“But, with signs that inflation has possibly peaked, retailers are hopeful that confidence will continue to improve. Now is not the time for Government to impose more regulation and tax on business that will push up costs for retailers and prices for their customers.”

BRC data also revealed that food inflation in the UK slowed to 15.4% in May this year from 15.7% in April.