CBI quarterly Distributive Trades Survey reveals 41% of retailers saw sales volumes rise in two weeks to May 16, although durable household goods and furniture saw declines.
Just 23% of retailers saw sales volumes fall on last year's figures, with the resulting balance of 18% above expectations that sales would remain flat in May.
However, subdued sales growth on the high street saw stock levels increase in relation to demand, with 25% of retailers anticipating levels to remain high in June.
Sales trends were weak across certain retail sectors, according to the survey, with durable household goods down 59% and furniture and carpets down 23%.
Looking forward, retailers expect growth to continue at a similar pace next month, with 35% predicting that sales will rise and 21% anticipating a decline.
CBI director general John Cridland said: High-street sales growth is likely to remain sluggish for some time. Household budgets are being persistently squeezed by the gap between p[rice inflation and weak wage growth. Given these challenging consumer conditions, it is good news that retail sales growth is stable, not falling."