Over the period, sales increased by 10% on a year-on-two-years basis, against a decline of 2.7% in May 2019.
This represents a rise from the three-month average growth of 8.5%.
Due to the impact of the pandemic, BRC compares figures from 2021 with numbers from before the pandemic, resulting in BRC’s 2021 figures now being year-on-two-years (Yo2Y), rather than year-on-year (YoY).
Helen Dickinson OBE, the BRC’s chief executive, said: “Retail sales were buoyant in May thanks to the reopening of hospitality, coupled with the afterglow of non-essential retail’s own return.
“Pent-up demand for the instore shopping experience, as well as the first signs of summer weather, helped retail to the strongest sales growth of the pandemic.”
She added: “Furniture and Homeware sales continued to perform well as consumers were able to see and feel items instore, while Clothing and Footwear saw their second consecutive month of growth due to the warmer weather and easing of social restrictions.
“There is a growing sense of consumer confidence, boosted not only by the widespread uptake of vaccinations and testing, but also retailers’ own significant investment in safety measures.”
Paul Martin, UK head of retail for KPMG, said: “Clothing retailers were the biggest beneficiaries of pent up demand, clocking up increases of over 100% as an easing of restrictions saw stores reopen and social events slowly come back on the agenda.
“Consumers also splurged on new jewellery, footwear and home accessories, with sales registering triple digit growth against last year, when lockdown measures were in place.”
He added: “Although some spend has migrated to high street, there was still high penetration of online spending in May reinforcing the view that the pandemic has seen a step up in online activity as some consumers maintain their use of this channel out of habit and choice and some remain nervous about venturing back into stores.”