The World Cup is exerting two-way pressure on Britain's shopkeepers.
A spurt of sales of flat-screen TVs and England shirts ahead of the tournament helped retail sales as a whole to rise for four months running since January - department stores had a bumper May.
Against that football enthusiasts fixated on the matches are not out there shopping.
Paul Clarke, retail special-ist at Barclays business banking described a 0.5 per cent in sales volumes between April and May as "modestly encouraging", although he attributed some of it to in-store promotions.
He added: "With football fever generally working well for food and especially drink sales England's opening game last Saturday led to a significant dip in footfall for most other retailers.
"If England now move into the next stage then there is a risk of a further impact with the first game of the second stage scheduled for a Saturday or Sunday.
"So whilst the country is rooting for England to win, the high street is braced for further disruption should we progress to the knock-outs."
National Statistics said last month's 0.5 per cent increase in sales overall, following an upwardly-revised 0.7 per cent gain in April, took the total four per cent ahead of May last year.
The latest three months show sales a seasonally adjusted one per cent higher than in December/February and 0.2 per cent up on the same months last year.
"While the flavour of the season appears to be flat-screen TVs, retail sales have been anything but flat over the past few months," said Philip Shaw, chief economist at Investec.
But most economists doubt that this pick-up in the shops will on its own greatly influence the Bank of England when it decides whether to move interest rates next month.
Fast-rising utility bills have not yet taken their full toll on the spending power of many households.
Pre-World-Cup demand for flat-screen TV's - contrasting with disappointing sales in some other countries - was reflected in a 19 per cent jump year-on-year sales of electrical goods generally, after a 23 per cent increase in April.
John Lewis reported a 42 per cent annual rise in electrical goods sales in the week to May 27, consisting largely of flat-panel TVs.
Clothing and footwear sales also rose strongly, despite signs that discounting was easing.
Overall, official numbers show demand recovering gradually, along with the housing market, after a sharp slowdown at the start of last year.
Prices continued to fall in May down by 0.9 per cent compared with last year due to fierce competition.
John Butler, analyst at HSBC, said the question for policy makers was not so much on the activity side "but whether inflation is starting to raise its ugly head above the parapet".
Thushani Gajasinghe, economist at the Cebr, said: "Growing household bills which rose by nine per cent in the year to May, on the back of rising energy costs, combined with rising unemployment have failed to hold back consumer spending.
"With consumer price inflation exceeding the two per cent target and hitting a seven-month high in May this latest news will allow the Bank more room for a rate rise but this is unlikely to happen until early 2007."