Disappointing clothing sales dragged down the growth of the UK's overall retail market in May, according to a study by the British Retail Consortium.
The BRC said that clothing sales performed worse overall, affected by poor weather, while furniture sales experienced the biggest rise as the housing market looked more positive.
The BRC, in a study sponsored by professional services companies KPMG, found that non-food sales rose in May by 9.9% on a year-on-year basis, compared to 17% growth last year. Online penetration grew to 17.4%
As Easter fell early this year, slowing down overall sales in April, the BRC expected a bigger pick up in May and called the results "overall flat".
"Buoyed by a conclusive result in May's General Election, the housing market picked up leading to stand out performances for furniture and homeware sales," David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG, said in a press release. "As economists predict another housing boom for the second half of 2015, these trends could be set to continue."
Online purchases contributed to 1.4 percentage points in the overall non-food sales growth. Online sales overall grew by 9.9% year on year, which was slightly below last year's growth. But, as Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC pointed out in the release, May 2014 was one of the strongest months for online fashion.
"Over the last 12 months online has contributed more to non-food sales growth than bricks and mortar stores, rewarding the substantial investment retailers have piled into new channels in recent years," Dickinson said.
Dickinson added that the in-store purchases also saw a silver lining. The rising furniture sales were an indicator of growing consumer confidence and food sales were positive as well, she thought.
"After six months of marginal growth year-on-year, we are now starting to see a stabilisation in food sales despite the highly competitive market environment," Dickinson said.