Furniture performed strongly in a tough month for retail in May, according to the British Retail Consortium.

It claimed that the big-ticket category had its best month since July 2014 — leaving aside Easter timing distortions — in what was an otherwise lacklustre month.

The BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor is at odds with anecdotal claims by furniture retailers in recent weeks, but will be welcomed nonetheless.

Official figures are due towards the end of the month.

The BRC said total retail sales climbed 1.1 per cent but like-for-like sales were flat against the same month in 2014. Director-general Helen Dickinson said: “May witnessed a slow-down in sales growth, below the three-month and twelve-month average.

“Nevertheless, May also had some positive developments. Amongst all categories, furniture performed strongest, an indication of continuing consumer confidence.”