Outdoor DIY and leisure products sales were up due to sunny weather. Homewares showed some improvement but big-ticket items often struggled, despite further discounts and promotions, in the face of consumer uncertainty about job and income prospects the consortium said in its report.
BRC Director General Stephen Robertson said: "Consumer confidence has clearly improved since last year's lows but there's still plenty of uncertainty, which is making customers nervous about buying expensive goods, such as furniture, despite widespread reductions. This month's emergency budget should provide more clarity."
Helen Dickinson, head of retail at KPMG, said: "May's results are more indicative of the underlying trend as the last couple of months were impacted by the timing of Easter. The election campaign didn't shift consumer spending patterns much either one way or the other but whether the forthcoming Budget will be more damaging remains to be seen and many retailers remain reliant on promotional activity to drive footfall and sales... However, furniture and floor coverings was once again the worst-performing sector, highlighting the reluctance of consumers to commit to big-ticket purchases while uncertainty over the future looms."