Holidaymakers deciding to revamp their homes instead of going away have been credited with boosting the furniture retail sector.

According to the British Retail Consortium, the cooler, wetter second half of July also helped put shoppers in the mood for a new three-piece suite.

UK retail sales values rose 1.8% on a like-for-like basis and 3.6% on a total basis in July, the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor showed.

This July was slightly stronger than June but the growth was against a weaker July 2008.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “July showed us both sides of the British summer and gave some parts of retailing a much-needed boost.”

Furniture and floor coverings reported the best growth since May 2006, with home accessories and house textiles also showing a strong uplift, partly thanks to clearances.

Robertson cautioned: “There is a sense among some commentators that the beginning of the end of recession is here, but rising unemployment and job loss fears will continue to hold back the widespread return of consumer confidence for some time yet.”

Clothing sales slowed despite a good start to new autumn/ winter ranges.

KPMG head of retail Helen Dickinson said: “Furniture and floor coverings and house textiles finally had a good month after many months in the doldrums, although achieved off a very low base in July last year. Food growth in value terms slowed driven by falling inflation in food. The mixed weather hit women’s and men’s clothing but not footwear or children’s clothing which all had another good month.”