May Sales in Britain Show Biggest Monthly Gain in 22 Years

London Retail sales surprisingly soared in Britain during May, revealing the biggest monthly gain in 22 years. Consumers shrugging off the credit crunch to spend more on clothing and food are credited for the gain, according to global news service Agence France-Presse.

The report indicated that economists were surprised by the data because it painted a rosy picture of the British retail sector, despite high inflation, a faltering housing market, slower economic growth and the ongoing impact of the global credit squeeze.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that retail sales on a monthly basis leapt by 3.5% in May from April.

That was the biggest monthly jump since 1986, and it defied market expectations for a monthly drop of 0.1%.

Retail sales jumped by 8.1% in May, compared with the figure for the same month in 2007, the ONS added.

However, data showed this week that British inflation hit a 16-year high of 3.3% in May, driven by soaring food prices and energy costs, the report said.