Retailers boosted by strong sales and price deflation

Retail sales values were up by 1.8 per cent in May, compared like-for-like with May 2012, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC). The BRC also found marginal deflation in overall shop prices.

The 0.1 per cent deflation in shop prices is the first time the measure has fallen in three and a half years and will be welcome news for shoppers.

Retailers will also be boosted by the figures, which the BRC says are partly due to the offer and uptake of promotional discounts intended to shift slow-selling stock. Furniture and flooring was the top performing category for the first time in more than two years.

On the strong sales performance, the BRC's Helen Dickinson said: "Retailers pulled off a good result in May despite contending with topsy-turvy temperatures and continued economic difficulties.

"The signs are that retailers read conditions well in May and adapted their offer accordingly. Customers are still price-conscious but responding well to good deals, especially for big-ticket items. But volatile economic conditions mean that this will remain a delicate balancing act for some time to come."

Commenting on the fall in shop prices, Dickinson said: "It bears out yesterday's sales figures, which showed that retailers used a range of promotions and offers to drive demand and shift seasonal stock which didn't sell well during the prolonged cold snap earlier in spring.

"Times remain tough, but it seems that retailers are reading the market well and doing what they can to offer customers the best possible value on their shopping."