DIY retailers are suffering their worst summer since 2004, as consumers hit by the downturn put off big home improvement projects.

Last month, consumer spend was£751.6 million, compared with£795.3 million in July last year and£804.6 million in July 2006.

According to the report by market research company Gfk, sales of£705 million are needed this month in order for DIY retailers to hit the£2 billion annual sales figure – a threshold that is usually reached easily.

The sector has been in decline since last year, when the UK suffered from heavy rainfall and flooding, delaying DIY projects.

Gfk account director for DIY and garden Daniel Fearnley said: “The past two summers have been tough for DIY retailers during this highly weather-sensitive time of the year.

“This year, we all hoped for a strong summer to get consumers back into the garden, spending money on leisure products like furniture and paddling pools. Unfortunately, the summer sun has been less than consistent, which, combined with the credit crunch, means retailers are banking on the perfect August.”