Argos has suffered a big drop in first quarter sales, but sister DIY chain Homebase managed a resilient performance.

In an update for the 13 weeks to 28 May, parent company Home Retail group said like-for-like sales at Argos were down 9.6%, and total sales down 8.1% at £817m. The gross margin fell 75 basis points.

Sales of consumer electricals were described as being particularly poor and accounted for the majority of the decline in sales. Toys and seasonal product were said to have fared well.

Homebase performed better, with a 1.6% increase in like-for-likes on flat total sales of £458m. Seasonal categories sold well over what is the retailer’s peak trading period, helped by the fine weather. However big ticket sales were “marginally down” reflecting weak consumer confidence.

Group chief executive Terry Duddy said trading conditions “have proved to be more difficult and volatile than expected.” However he claimed that the group had gained or held market share.