A return to form for seasonal fashions helped boost retail sales in the UK in May, despite topsy-turvy temperatures and a fragile economy.

UK retail sales rose 1.8% on a like-for-like basis on last May and were up 3.4% in total, well above the three-month average increase of 2.3%, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

British Retail Consortium director general Helen Dickinson said the figures represented a “good result”, with total growth in every category.

“Seasonal fashions returned to form when sunshine set in early in May, but growth slumped with temperatures in the second half of the month,” she added.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, added: “In the fashion world, consumers appear to have accepted the fact that summer may not involve days on end of glorious sunshine and have slowly succumbed to replenishing their wardrobes.”

BRC senior analyst Anne Alexandre said swimwear sales were boosted by sunny weather in early May, with shoppers replenishing their summer wardrobes, but also buying bargain knitwear in clearance sales.

The best-performing category was children’s wear, particularly essentials, with casual summer jerseys a strong category for women’s wear.

Turning to footwear, Alexandre said: “Retailers reported less discounting last month than in May the previous year, resulting in more sales if not more volumes.

“Women’s footwear was the best performing segment at full price with sandals and ballerinas the standout performers.

“The children’s segment was also very strong overall.”