Tourists are still staying away from London and its stores, according to latest figures.

While stores in the rest of the country enjoyed a busy month in May with sales growth rising the fastest for five years, foreign visitors are staying away from the capital.

Lower VAT refund figures show that visitors from overseas are still frightened about foot-and-mouth.

And the director general of the British Retail Consortium, Bill Moyes, has called on the government to rescue the tourist trade.

Commenting on the figures in the BRC-KPMG May Retail Sales Monitor, Mr Moyes said: "This is another set of very healthy figures for the retail sector.

"If this trend continues, we should see retail employment starting to grow again after the year-on-year contraction in March.

"However, there is serious concern for stores in London; the Government must take action."

 City analysts say the buoyancy of consumer spending is likely to deter the Bank of England from cutting interest rates.