Retail sales remained flat in July according to the Office of National Statistics as cash-strapped consumers remained under pressure.

Sales volumes, excluding petrol, experienced a modest increase of 0.2% month-on-month over July, a slowdown from the 0.8% increase in June. Sales values increased 0.9% over the month.

Food sales continued to outperform non-food.  Sales volumes were up 0.7% month-on-month, with values up 1.6%. However, the BRC said that it was taking a record number of promotions to entice customers into supermarkets.  

Year-on-year food volumes have fallen 1.6% despite a 4% in jump in value.

In non-food, sales volumes remained flat with a 0.1% dip in volume and 0.4% increase in value against June’s figures.

Internet sales dropped 0.8% in value and 0.8% in volume over the month.  Clothing and footwear sales volumes dropped 1% year on year but increased 2.7% in value.

British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson said the figures tallied with its own and painted a “painful picture”.

He said: Conditions are increasingly difficult for customers and retailers. All the growth in sales values came from inflation and January’s increase in VAT; people are actually buying fewer goods than a year ago. Customers’ ability to spend is being squeezed by rising costs, particularly utilities and low wage rises.”