Total sales volumes increased between May and June by 0.2 per cent in all retail sectors, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In the three months to June, food sales volumes climbed just 1.3 per cent against the same period last year – the smallest increase this sector has achieved since June 1999. Between May and June, food sales slid 1.1 per cent.

In contrast, May and June were strong months for non-specialist stores, where sales volumes rose 4.1 per cent – the highest increase since the start of 2005.

The average weekly value in sales for June was£5 billion, which is 3.8 per cent higher than last June.

Over the quarter, sales volumes increased 1.9 per cent at non-food stores and decreased 0.1 per cent at food stores against the previous three-month period. Other non-food operators, including sports, leisure and jewellery retailers, sales volumes rose 3.3 per cent. Non-specialist stores enjoyed a 2.5 per cent increase.

Ernst & Young head of retail Gavin George said that at face value the overall growth, however small, was not disastrous, considering recent weather and interest rate rises.

George said: “However, sales growth was overwhelmingly driven by heavy summer discounting – as high as 70 per cent in some non-food sectors, such as clothing and furniture.”