Britain closed non-essential retailers to the public in late March and only a small number such as garden centres were able to reopen in May.
Other stores in England were permitted to reopen on June 15 subject to restrictions on the number of customers allowed in.
Sales at non-food stores increased by 23.7% in May, but were still 42.1% down on a year earlier, with clothes stores the hardest-hit category with sales down by more than 60%.
Public sector net borrowing, which is surging to fund the government's huge increase in public spending, hit 55.2 billion pounds ($68.7 billion) in May - a record high after April's reading was revised down to 48.5 billion pounds from 62.1 billion.
The May figure was nine times bigger than the deficit in same month last year.
A measure of public sector debt edged above 100% of economic output for the first time since 1963, when Britain was still paying off the costs of the Second World War.
In April and May, the first two months of the current financial year, borrowing stood at 103.7 billion pounds, 87 billion pounds more than in the same period last year.
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