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UK's retail performance exceeds analyst expectations

24 June 2013 - 09:41 by Graham Miller

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Retail sales across the UK were up by 3.1 per cent, year on year, over the course of May, according to the latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This reflects more significant growth than had been originally predicted by economists, with May's sales even topping those of April by 2.1 per cent.

The actual value of the sales was up by just 1.9 per cent, year on year, because retailers were using heavy discounts in order to encourage consumers to part with their cash last month.

The fact that economists were flummoxed is all the more significant because April actually saw a dip in sales, hinting at a wobbly recovery for the UK.

Analysts now believe that GDP will be up by half a percentage point in the second quarter of 2013, which is stronger growth than the economy experienced in the first three months of the year.

Experts believe that as well as the lower prices being touted by retailers leading to improved sales figures, the power of safe shopping online helped to revive the market over the course of May.

Markit spokesperson, Chris Williamson, said that consumers were increasingly confident in the state of the UK's economy and so were more willing to spend money, both via safe shopping online and traditional bricks and mortar stores.

Mr Williamson did say that it was wise to be cautious about the long term stability of the retail sector, particularly as the actual value of sales has risen at a more modest rate. This will have a knock-on effect, which could temper the overall growth of the economy.

Of course for consumers, this means lower prices and more choice, with the power to enjoy the best of the web and the high street.