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Retail sales steam on

May's interest rate rise did little to dampen shoppers' appetite during May, the latest figures have shown.According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) retail sales in the UK rose 0.4 per cent over the last month.The unexpected increase comes despite the Bank of England's monetary policy committee voting to raise interest rates a quarter of a percentage point to 5.5 per cent at the beginning of May.Last month's rate hike follows identical increases in January 2007 and November and August of last year.The ONS said today that stronger retail growth was reported in all sectors excluding clothing and footwear, with the latter seeing sales slump by 2.5 per cent."The largest increases occurred in household goods stores where sales increased by 2.9 per cent following a fall of 3.2 per cent in April and non-store retailing which rose by 2.6 per cent," a spokesperson said.Total sales volumes in the three months to May were 4.4 per cent up on last year, today's statistics revealed, while the average weekly value of sales rose 4.6 per cent to £4.9 billion.

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