Sales across the high street fell for the fourth consecutive month in the year to August, according to figures from the CBI.
According to the CBI Distributive Trades Survey 51% of retailers said their volume of sales fell with 34% reporting a growth.
The resulting rounded balance of -16%, better than expected, was similar to declines in the previous three months.
A sales fall of 14% is predicted for September.
Retailers however are feeling more positive about the outlook of their businesses now than they have since November 2007, the CBI said.
Chairman of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel, and Chief Operating Officer of Asda Andy Clarke said: “These results round off a slow and disappointing summer for many in the high street, and the picture is not set to improve in September. Stock levels have been pared right back as retailers have adapted to weaker consumer demand. However, throughout the year retailers have become less and less negative about the business outlook, and that reflects increasing signs of stability in the wider economy.”
Richard Lowe, head of retail and wholesale, Barclays Commercial Bank said: “With consumers inundating the high street on sunny days, they have snapped up discounted items to fill their holiday wardrobes. Shops have been quick to respond with generous sale offers to prolong this seasonal boost. At the possible expense of margin, attracting greater numbers to the high street will see many retailers relieved at this positive indicator of things moving in the right direction.”