May was another grim month for the retail sector, at least on the face of it.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC), its trade body, said sales were down 5.9 per cent. On the same day, Barclaycard reported a 26.7 per cent decline in retail transactions.

It should be noted that the two sets of figures cover different slightly different periods – the BRC’s runs from 3 May to 30 May, Barclaycard from 25 April 2020 to 22 May – which may partly explain why Barclaycard’s data looks so much worse at a time when card-based transactions have risen.