British retail sales rose at their fastest rate in nearly four years during the three months to May, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Released yesterday, the report shows retail sales volumes jumping 5.8% year-on-year during the three-month period – the fastest growth since summer 1997. The figures back up recent findings of the British Retail Commission [WAMN: 05-Jun-01].

Non-food stores saw particularly robust growth – volumes in this sector jumped 2% on the previous three-month period, outstripping overall growth of 1.5%.

Paradoxically, the news is not necessarily good for the UK’s beleaguered manufacturing industry. Rising sales and the recent hike in underlying inflation to a two-year high are likely to rule out a cut in interest rates – a move manufacturers feel is necessary to bring down the value of the pound and make them more competitive.

News source: Financial Times