DIY and garden centres help UK retail sales rebound in May

UK sales rose by 12% last month, as the easing of the lockdown spurred demand for paint, garden equipment, electrical goods and homewares, increasing the amount bought in non-food stores by 24%. In a clear message that shoppers have changed their habits during the lockdown, the biggest gains went to online shops, which accounted for 33.4% of all spending in May, compared with the 30.8% reported in April and an average of 18% seen last year. Jeremy Thomson-Cook, the chief economist at money management firm Equals, warned the bounce back in sales could evaporate if the government failed to maintain the momentum of last month from shops reopening. How long these drivers can remain positive depends much more broadly on the jobs market moving forward with cliff-edges seen as the furlough scheme winds down and some consumers face claiming universal credit instead of their government-supportedwage.” Petrol usually makes up about 10% of retail sales, but that has fallen back to nearer 5% in the pandemic as people use their cars less.