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UK Retail Sales Jump in May Thanks to Sunny Days

British retail sales grew at their fastest pace in four months in May as warm, sunny weather encouraged consumers to splash out on new clothes and summer food and drink, a survey showed on Tuesday.

The British Retail Consortium said the value of retail sales rose a like-for-like 1.9 percent last month from a year earlier after a 1.5 percent decline in April.

That was the strongest reading since January this year and one of the few pieces of data not to paint a gloomy picture of the British economy in recent weeks.

Total sales, which include new floorspace, were up 4.6 percent on the year, also the strongest reading since January, after a 1 percent increase in the month before.

The BRC said the improved retail performance was a result of the sunny weather in May and that underlying trading remained tough as people feel the pinch from rising household bills.

"After several mostly miserable months, warm sunny weather finally arrived early in May and helped lift customers' gloom," said Stephen Robertson, BRC director general.

Clothing stores did well because of the weather, as did sales of barbecue items and other summer foods.

Sectors associated with the housing market, however, have been doing less well. Another survey out on Tuesday showed that prices in the house prices continue to drop sharply.