Heatwave sends shoppers out for barbecues and bikinis

Britain's struggling retailers saw sales heat up in May as consumers splashed out on barbecues, lawnmowers and summer clothing in the hot spell at the end of the month.

But retail experts said the short-term boost from the heatwave would not overcome the sustained squeeze on consumer spending facing the sector, while the as-yet-unseen sales data from the rain-hit Jubilee bank holiday is likely to have dampened expectations of a patriotic spending spree.

Underlying like-for-like retail sales – at stores open for at least a year – rose by 1.3 per cent in May on an annual basis, according to the British Retail Consortium and KPMG survey, marking a rebound from the 3.3 per cent fall seen in April.

Stephen Robertson, the director general of the BRC, said chains selling women's skirts, shorts and swimwear had enjoyed their best growth of the year so far.

He added: "Garden centres enjoyed a boom in the number of people investing in new lawnmowers to tackle overgrown grass."

Total retail sales, including the boost from new stores and extensions, jumped by 3.4 per cent in May.

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