Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium:

"The slowdown in overall non-food sales was mirrored online in May as annual growth fell to its lowest on record. Though sales in all categories but one saw growth, this was subdued as consumers held back on non-essential purchases.

“Where there is willingness to spend on non-food items, this is largely concentrated on value-lines. The clothing and beauty categories in particular were boosted by some late season promotions, which looks promising for those retailers who will be launching their mid-season sales this month.

“For the second consecutive month, the increase in the online penetration rate has remained below one percentage point. Retailers will be increasingly looking to innovate and optimise their online channels to convert a greater share of online browsing into sales.”

Paul Martin, Head of Retail, KPMG: 

“Whilst non-food online sales continue to deliver growth, the significant news is that this month’s year-on-year growth is the lowest recorded since our online retail sales monitor began back in December 2012. Broadly speaking, most categories noted a rise, but growth had clearly been muted due to shoppers clawing back on non-food purchases.

“Bucking the general trend, health and beauty products continue to be the rising star, with holiday season, sunshine and hay fever likely to be fuelling this growth. Elsewhere, the more seasonal weather in the month is likely to be behind fashion sales performing better.

“With such meagre growth in online sales in May, it is vital online retailers master the art of customer-centricity and personalisation. Ensuring the right products are available at the right time, and that surplus stock is not sold at significantly reduced prices, is becoming ever more important. Success will come from an ability to target the online shoppers who spend more and return less.”