The health of the UK retail sector is on the cusp of hitting record lows as businesses battle “some of the toughest trading conditions they have experienced”.

The Retail Health Index, which measures a variety of metrics to ascertain the robustness of the retail sector including consumer demand, gross margins and costs, fell one point to 76 in the second quarter of 2019, according to the KPMG and Ipsos Retail Think Tank (RTT).

This marks the 13th consecutive quarter that the index has either fallen or remained flat.

According to the RTT, this metric is poised to fall another point in the third quarter of the year to 75, which will mark the lowest score on record.

HSBC head of retail and leisure and RTT member James Sawley said: “Speaking with retailers day in, day out, there’s no denying that they are facing some of the toughest trading conditions they’ve ever experienced.

“Trading is challenging both on the high street and online – and apparel is very much on the forefront of this battle at the moment. There are a number of issues impacting consumer confidence and retailers’ margins are under significant pressure.

“Online sales growth was recorded at just 5% for the last few months, so it’s not just the high street experiencing the strain.”