Worst monthly result so far for embattled retailers
Retailers confirmed another bleak month of trading amid a continued squeeze on those firms selling clothing, furniture and electrical goods.
In a report showing contrasting fortunes for food and non-food retailers, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said sales were down 0.6% on a like-for-like basis in August compared with the same month a year ago.
Poor consumer confidence and high inflation were blamed for the lacklustre performance, with the riots in the early part of the month "not widespread or prolonged enough" to have a significant impact on the sales figures.
Food sales growth was similar to the level seen in July but the BRC said non-food sales fell further below their year-ago level, with footwear and homewares showing the largest declines despite further promotions.
Helen Dickinson, head of retail at accountancy firm KPMG, which helped compile the survey, added: "The weaker sectors are really struggling.
"For non-food, the picture is disheartening with one of the worst monthly results of the year thus far."