Retail sales increased 14.2% year-on-year to US$78 billion in May, the National Bureau of Statistics said. It was the biggest increase in almost 18 months as increasing incomes spurred spending on everything from cars to electronics, clothing and daily necessities. It followed a 13.6% increase in April, while retail sales in the first five months of the year jumped 13.2% over 2005. Analysts say the increased spending could give the central People's Bank of China more leeway to raise lending rates in order to curb investment. Spending was up in both rural and urban centres, 12.6% and 15% respectively.