The August figures for BDO’s monthly High Street Sales Tracker (HSST) recorded a 1.5 per cent dropin overall year-on-year sales for August – the seventh month in a row with no sign of growth.
Despite increasing consumer confidence and spending power, retailers failed to improve on August 2015 which was one of the worst months experienced by the high street since November 2008.
However, garden centres such as Highfield Garden Centre reported more positive results, particularly in areas where there has been good weather.
Notcutts, for instance said it was "on track after August trading", while Highfields reported good increases.
Sales of lifestyle goods in August (up 0.7 per cent year-on-year) benefited from tourists taking advantage of the weak pound and a flurry of sporting activity inspired by the Rio Olympics.
Homewares retailers also had a good month (up 11.3 per cent year-on-year), boosted by strong sales of furniture and soft furnishings.
But these gains couldn’t compensate for the continuing struggles of the fashion sector.
Fashion sales were down by 3.3 per cent, despite heavy discounting and a weak base of -5.5 per cent in August 2015. In particular, fashion sales dropped by 9.6 per cent in the last week of August, as sales ended and many people took a late summer holiday or chose to spend their disposable income elsewhere.
Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO LLP, said retailers had failed to put last summer’s woes behind them and deliver a positive story for 2016: "Footfall was up for most of August, but the majority of retailers struggled to consistently translate recent positive consumer sentiment and increased spending levels into in-stores sales."