Strong fashion and footwear sales spearheaded a surprise 1.2 per cent rise in retail sales volumes in August while food groups suffered, according to ONS monthly sales data.

Total retail sales volumes increased 3.3 per cent year on year but declined 0.8 per cent on a three-month basis – the worst figure recorded since August 1991.

Clothing, textiles and fashion volumes climbed 4.1 per cent, but food retailers suffered a 0.2 per cent decline in volumes.

Food retailers experienced a 0.8 per cent year-on-year fall in volumes – the weakest performance since July 2007. On a three-month basis, volumes were down 1.3 per cent – the lowest figure for food since records began in 1986.

The average weekly value of retail sales in August was£5.1 billion, an advance of 3.9 per cent on the previous year.