US retail sales rose 1% in May – the largest increase since November – according to government figures.

The growth beat forecasts, which predicted an rise of around 0.5%, and it followed small increases in March and April.

In the three months to the end of May, US retail sales have risen 2.6%, suggesting that stimulus payments from the Bush administration are paying off.

Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said the May increase was “welcome news” – and pointed to Bush’s “economic growth package”.

“Putting cash in the hands of about 130m American households allows consumers to spend their money as they see fit,” Gutierrez said.