Hopes of a summer sales lift have fallen flat as UK retail like-for-likes slid 1 per cent in August.
Although total sales were up 1.4 per cent, the British Retail Consortium's Retail Sales Monitor shows sales have been slower than a year ago in five of the past six months, making it the worst summer for three years.
The BRC highlighted the very wet weather as a reason for the poor performance. It said that a few sunny days, together with extended clearance events, helped some retailers, but that underlying trade remained tough.
Record low consumer confidence and pressures on household budgets has also hit the sector hard.
Food and drink was the only sector to show sales up on a year ago, while clothing and footwear remained poor. Furniture and homewares were well down on last year.
BRC director-general Stephen Robertson said: “Prospects for customers and retailers are inextricably linked. Helping retailers keep prices down by cutting regulatory costs is the best way the Government can assist hard-pressed customers.
“It must think again on business rate supplements and empty property rates relief and consider carefully where the minimum wage goes next.”