Like-for-like UK retail sales values fell by 2.1 per cent year-on-year in May, according to new high street figures released today.

Results of the monthly sales monitor released by KPMG and the British Retail Consortium revealed a considerable slow down in food sales, following strong growth in April. Big ticket purchases also slowed, with retailers using pavement signs and other display methods to bring customers attention to promotional offers in order to move stock. Sales of footwear, clothing and homeware items also declined.

But despite the fall in activity seen in May, Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said the figures were a truer reflection of the situation on the high street. He said Easter falling early, and royal wedding celebrations last month, had helped to distort figures from the previous two months.

Describing the current situation as a soft patch in the recovery, Mr Robertson stressed the importance of keeping interest rates low in an effort to support businesses in Britain.

Although internet, mail order and phone sales were down on the previous month, they compared favourably year-on-year, up by 10.4 per cent on May 2010.