Retail sales fell slightly in the month of August, despite an otherwise healthy summer of spending, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The data for the month of August showed that retail sales fell 0.2% when compared with July, which saw a 0.4% uptick and a 1% increase in June.

Year-on-year sales in August increased by 2.7% in 2019, a slowdown when compared to the stronger growth experienced earlier in the year which peaked at 6.7% in March.

The ONS blamed the first sales downturn since May on what it called the largest monthly fall in online sales since August 2015, and the end of pre-summer holiday promotional activity.

Ecommerce sales fell to 19.7% in August, down from 19.9% in July.

Overall the three-monthly figures showed “moderate” sales growth of 0.6% across all categories.

In terms of three-month sales by category, the ONS found that online grew 4.8%, while food store sales declined for the third consecutive month, down 0.2%.

Head of retail at the ONS, Rhian Murphy noted: “Retail sales grew moderately in the three months to August with online sales still providing the biggest driver, despite falling back in the latest month.

“Shoppers spent less on both food and clothing while department stores resumed their downward trend after a brief rally in July.”