Retail sales dropped to a “new low” during August, according to the latest BRC-KPMG sales figures.

Total retail sales were flat during the four weeks to August 24 compared with an increase of 1.3% for the same period the previous year.

However, sales were above the three-month average of -0.4% but below the 12-month average of 0.4% – making it the lowest 12-month average on record.

UK retail sales decreased 0.5% on a like-for-like basis compared with August 2018 when they increased by 0.2%. This was above the three-month average of -0.7% but below the 12-month average of -0.2%.

Food like-for like sales declined 0.3% – but increased 0.5% on a total basis during the three months to August – falling below the 12-month average growth of 1.7%.

Non-food sales for the same period decreased 1.2% on a like-for-like and total basis. This is below the 12-month average decrease of 0.7%.

Online sales of non-food products increased 2.2% during the month of August; however, this was still lower than growth of 7.5% in August the previous year. The three- and 12-month average increases were 3.4% and 4.3% respectively.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Retail sales flatlined in August with the 12-month average dropping to a new low of just 0.4%. Greater economic and political uncertainty has driven down consumer demand. While the summer weather gave a small boost to food sales, this was cancelled out by a drop in non-food sales.

“Summer discounting and poor footfall have hit in-store sales particularly hard. If the Government wants to avoid seeing further store closures and job losses on the UK high street, they must take action.

“Last month, 50 retail CEOs wrote to the Chancellor demanding he fix the broken business rates system, allowing businesses to fund vital investment during this unprecedented period of transformation.”

KPMG head of retail Paul Martin said: “August proved to be yet another incredibly disappointing month for retail, with like-for-like sales down 0.5% and total sales flatlining at zero.

“It’s clear that for much of the retail market, efforts are being focused on preservation, not growth, in this adverse and uncertain climate.”