Retail sales soar to record high

Britons hit the high street with a vengeance last month, as well as flocking online to shop. They spent a record £27.1bn in total, according to official figures.

A 2.1 per cent surge in sales volumes was far bigger than expected by City economists, adding to hopes of faster growth in the current quarter.

The spend, which averaged £6.8bn a week, is the highest since the Office for National Statistics' records began in 1988. But volumes, the quantity of goods bought stripping out the effects of inflation, also surpassed pre-recession peaks to reach an all-time high in May.

The sales bonanza was driven by a strong bounceback from an April fall and better weather. Supermarkets battled for customers with heavy discounting on food, sending sales up 3.5 per cent in the biggest rise for two years.

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