Retail sales received a welcome boost in May as warmer weather led to the strongest growth in clothing sales for two years, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Having suffered from the colder weather in April, volume of clothing sales jumped 4.3% compared with last year. That, in turn, helped overall retail sales to grow by 0.9% - considerably more than the 0.2% expected by analysts.
The ONS said online sales were up 6.4% compared with April and more than 21% up on May last year.
Martin Beck, senior economic adviser at EY Item Club, said the latest growth in retail sales suggests that economic growth in the UK in the second quarter was likely to surpass the 0.4% rise seen in the first quarter.
Tina Spooner, chief information Officer, at IMRG, which conducted its own research on online sales, said: "Uncertainty around the EU referendum doesn't appear to have had any impact on the UK e-retail sector, with the latest results of the IMR Capgemini Index revealing strong growth in online sales during May. It seems the fine weather last month helped boost online clothing sales, with annual growth reaching the highest rate observed in three years, while the garden sector saw a much-needed return to growth after 14 consecutive months of decline, with sales surging 55% compared with May last year.
"Year-to-date online sales have grown 14.5%, well ahead of our 11% growth forecast for 2016, while sales via mobile devices continue to grow at twitce the overall market rate."