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U.K. Retail Sales Rose in May on Furniture Demand, BRC Says

June 4 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. retail sales rose in May as demand for furniture and flooring increased and temporary discounts lured shoppers, the British Retail Consortium said.

Sales at stores open at least 12 months, measured by value, increased 1.8 percent from a year earlier, the London-based trade group and KPMG said in an e-mailed report today. Total sales rose 3.4 percent.

Today’s report is the latest to indicate the recovery may be gathering pace, after Markit Economics said yesterday that a factory gauge surged in May and the British Chambers of Commerce raised its economic forecasts last week. The improving outlook may prompt the Bank of England to keep its stimulus target unchanged this week, according to a Bloomberg News survey of economists.

“While sales didn’t soar through the roof, this is still a very creditable performance from U.K. retailers,” said David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG. “Promoting the right product at the right price made the difference in May.”

The increase in sales came in spite of changeable temperatures last month, according to the report. Online sales were up 11 percent from a year earlier.

The BRC report also showed that in the quarter through May, same-store retail sales rose 0.7 percent from a year earlier. Food sales gained 0.7 percent, with demand for non-food increasing by the same amount. The BRC said that while customers are “responding well” to discounting, “volatile economic conditions mean that this will remain a delicate balancing act for some time to come.”

The BOE’s Monetary Policy Committee will keep quantitative easing at 375 billion pounds ($575 billion) on June 6, according to the median of 43 forecasts in a Bloomberg News poll. The MPC will also keep its key interest rate at 0.5 percent, another survey showed.

To contact the reporter on this story: Svenja O’Donnell in London at sodonnell@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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