UK food sales increased 3.2% on a like-for-like basis in the three months to June, against a backdrop of declining retail sales.

Like-for-like retail sales fell by 0.4% in May, compared to growth of 0.5% in May 2016, according to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

But the growth in food sales is the strongest three-month average since February 2012, excluding Easter distortions.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “After the pick-up in sales over Easter, consumer spending slowed again in May resulting in almost flat growth on the previous year. Underneath the headlines, there’s continued variation in the performance of food versus non-food products, as sales performance of the two become increasingly polarised.

“Food sales, albeit positively distorted by inflation, continue to see annual growth, while in non-food categories which are predominantly capturing discretionary spending, retailers find themselves having to compete even harder.”

KPMG UK head of retail Paul Martin said: “The impact of inflationary pressures on the nation’s purse continues to play out in this month’s figures, with shoppers evidently spending more on food and drink than on non-food purchases.”