It was meant to be the summer of sales - because of the Olympics.
However, official figures released yesterday revealed only the slightest of fillips - with UK retail sales up 0.1% on a like-for-like basis from July 2011, when they were up 0.6%.
The figures, from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and accountancy giant KPMG showed that on a total basis, sales were up 2.0%, against a 2.5% rise in July 2011.
The BRC said that warm weather in the final week of the month, combined with the start of the Olympics, helped support food and drink sales, but added the sharp fall in food inflation has dampened top line growth.
Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: “July was clearly not a golden month for retail. Like-for-like sales were virtually flat compared with a year ago and total growth of two per cent was still behind inflation as consumers, dealing with squeezed budgets, prioritised their spending on essentials.
“After the June wash-out, more wet weather in July continued to stifle demand for outdoor gear. There was a boost for food retailers towards the end of the month as the sunshine came out and shoppers started getting in party food and drink ahead of the Olympics but it wasn’t a significant help.”