UK like-for-like sales dipped 0.4 per cent in June, compared with the same month last year.

Sales have been down year on year for three of the past four months – the worst performance since summer 2005.

Changeable weather in June affected sales badly overall, although total sales were up 2.1 per cent.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) figures show that food and drink was the only sector to show significant growth, although that was compared with a weak month last year, when the UK reported its wettest June on record.

Clothing and footwear performed less well, while furniture and homewares retailers fared even worse. Consumer confidence is at an all-time low and shoppers are less willing to part with their money because of the economic downturn, said the BRC.

KPMG head of retail Helen Dickinson said: “This environment is a hugely challenging one for retailers – for food retailers with their own costs continuing to rise and for non-food retailers trying to win back a greater share of wallet.”