Nearly half of retailers reported falling year-on-year sales in the year to June, according to the CBI Distributive Trades Survey.

Although 31 per cent of retailers said year-on-year sales volumes rose in the first two weeks of June, 48 per cent said they were down.

It was the second consecutive month that the survey recorded a fall in retail sales, after a surprise lift in April.

The CBI said the decline was broadly in line with retailers’ expectations and that it was no worse than in May and less severe than falls recorded between July 2008 and March 2009.

Grocers continued to deliver the strongest performance, with more than half of respondents reporting growth on a year ago.

Furniture & carpets was the only other sector to report growth, with a balance of 19 per cent reporting sales growth — the sector’s best figure for 18 months.

There were particularly marked declines in durable household goods, with a balance of -91% reporting lower sales,hardware, china & DIY (-39%) and clothing (-46%).

Asda chief operating officer and chairman of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel Andy Clarke said: “June’s weak sales figures show that business on the high street isn’t getting any easier. The one consolation for retailers is, it isn’t getting any worse, and the dark days of the winter are behind us.

“It is too early to foresee a sustained pick-up in retailers’ fortunes over the coming months, and the savviest retailers will continue working hard to offer consumers the best possible value for money.”