An improvement in homewares sales in July carried through into August, the BDO Stoy Hayward High Street Sales Tracker showed.

The category is widely viewed as a key indicator of consumer sentiment and sustained evidence of a homewares recovery would indicate that the consumer economy is on the mend.

Homewares like-for-likes rose 0.4% in the month BDO found, although against weak comparatives. Textile and DIY purchases were “strong” and furniture sales “relatively solid”.

But fashion sales slid 2.6% like-for-like – the fourth monthly decline in a row – as fewer discounts and lower footfall took a toll.

Non-fashion comparable-store sales rose 1.4%. Luxury and leisure goods were the strongest performing categories.

Overall, the tracker recorded a 1.4% like-for-like-decline in August.

BDO Stoy Hayward head of retail Don Williams said: “These are broadly encouraging results as they suggest the decline in sales is easing.

“Trade does seem to have finally bottomed out with even home-related sales appearing to have arrested their decline.

“However, consumers remain wary of making purchases unless they are discounted heavily. Value is still very much at the forefront of shoppers’ minds.”