By Marcus Leach

Following a tough year on the high street there was a boost for the retail sector today (Thursday), with the news that UK retail sales rose by 1.9% year-on-year in May.

The monthly change was a big upswing compared with April, when High Street sales fell 1.1%, adding to the belief that the economy is turning a corner and slowly return to sustainable growth.

The main source of upwards pressure in the amount spent came from the food sector, where, compared with May 2012, the amount spent increased by 3.4%.

With the exception of non-specialised (department) stores, all store types in May 2013 experienced an increase in the quantity bought compared with April 2013, showing that there was a bounce back from the weak picture seen in April. Feedback from retailers suggested that promotions on summer ranges led to this increase in sales.

“The UK high street continues to tease us with potential green shoots. However, there is still a long way to go to see whether or not these will come to fruition," Peter Saville, partner at Zolfo Cooper, said.

"As we enter the crucial summer trading period, it would appear that efforts to attract more consumers with offers and discounts are paying off but retailers should proceed with caution as only time will tell if this is at a detriment to profitability.

"The sector is still in a state of flux with consumer habits changing constantly and ecommerce powering ahead at the expense of the high street. Retailers need to make sure they are not only offering good value but also providing customers with the best possible shopping experience and rewarding loyalty.”

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