Two bank holidays and the arrival of warm weather boosted sales at UK stores after two consecutive months of stagnation, data released on Tuesday 7 June showed.
According to the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium-KPMG, total retail spending climbed 1.4% year-on-year in May, while like-for-like sales edged 0.5% higher. Pubs and restaurants, DYI stores, fashion chains and garden centres led the way as Britons made the most of the sunshine last month after two months of unusually cold weather.
"Clothing made a big comeback this month after suffering declines in April," said BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson.
"This appears to be due to consumers waiting for just the right moment before embarking on their pre-summer spending."
Dickinson warned that despite the positive showing in May consumers will continue to err on the side of caution when it comes to spending.
"However, with signs that the UK's economy is slowing, it's unlikely that this is the beginning of a complete reversal of fortunes," she said. "The uncertain outlook means that customers will remain cautious with their spending therefore we expect sales figures to remain volatile for the time being."
Meanwhile, the half-term school break saw children's footwear and clothing be the standout category within the fashion sector and sports retailers look set to benefit from a summer packed with sporting events.
Euro 2016 kicks off in France on 10 June, while Wimbledon gets under way on 27 June and the 2016 Olympic Games will begin in Rio de Janeiro on 5 August.
"With a summer of sport kicking off in June and festival season getting under way, retailers will be hoping that the feel-good factor coupled with a dose of summer sunshine will keep the tills ringing over the summer months," said David McCorquodale, UK head of retail at accountants KPMG.