Retail like-for-like sales rose by just 0.5% in July as shoppers’ fear of looming public spending cuts took hold.

Non-food retailers were especially badly hit and some categories, such as homewares, fell into negative territory. Online sales of non-food climbed by 11.3%, which was the lowest growth since last August.

Total sales advanced 2.6% during the month, the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor showed.

Clothing sales were helped by clearance promotions but footwear sales slowed. The end of the World Cup hit TV sales and electricals purchases were frequently of replacement items. It was a slower month for department stores.

Home accessories and textiles sales recorded their biggest sales fall since spring 2009 as customers put off purchases because of “underlying caution and uncertainty”.

BRC director-general Stephen Robertson said: “These are poor results for non-food retailing.

“The overriding factor is consumer confidence – it’s fallen recently, although people are still more confident than this time last year.

“Talk of public spending cuts is unsettling consumers and they are concentrating on essentials.”

On a three-month basis, food like-for-likes rose 1.6% and non-food by 0.3%, amounting to a 0.9% rise for the sector. Total sales growth was 4% in food, 2.3% in non-food and 3% altogether.