The British Retail Consortium's most recent retail figures have shown that June's retail sales values fell 0.4 per cent on a like-for-like basis compared with June 2007.
Sales have now been lower than a year ago in three of the past four months making it the worst summer since 2005. Last month's fall has been blamed on changeable weather after May's warm sun.
A few sunny days and clearance events have helped some retailers but underlying trade has remained tough and consumer confidence has continued to fall, reaching new record lows.
With increasing demands on household budgets and the weakness of the housing market, shoppers are becoming increasingly price-conscious and reluctant to spend on big-ticket items.
Stephen Robertson, Director General of the BRC explained, "The negative result confirms fears May's modest like-for-like growth was a start-of-summer blip. While total retail sales frew in June, that was by less than half last month's figure."
He continued, "Retailers are doing all they can to reassure customers, offering some of the strongest discounts and promotions in decades and keeping a lid on inflation."