Sales of fashion in high street stores fell to their lowest level since 2009 in July, despite heavy discounting.
Sales were down 3.5% compared to the same month last year, according to accountancy firm BDO, which tracks the performance of more than 70 mid-market fashion, lifestyle and homeware retailers across the UK.
Many fashion retailers were in Sale for the majority of the month, yet this failed to offset the wetter weather and a general tightening of consumers’ purse strings.
Across all categories sales were down 0.6%, dragged down by the poor fashion figures.
BDO warned tough times could still be ahead for retailers, as poor consumer confidence leads to a greater focus on the essentials.
It said: “There is also no doubt that consumer disposable income is being squeezed at the same time as borrowing is in danger of overheating.
”As consumer confidence dwindles and shoppers tighten the purse strings, focus shifts to essentials and away from so-called throwaway fashion and results in an increasing spend on auction websites and with charity retailers, who continue to perform well.”