British retailers saw the slowest growth in sales since the end of COVID-19 lockdowns last year as shoppers tightened their belts in the face of soaring inflation, business consultancy BDO said on Friday.
Total like-for-like retail sales increased by 3.6% in August compared with the same month last year and online sales fell by 0.6%, their first decline since March.
"September's results will show just how significant the pull-back in discretionary spending is likely to be this winter but clearly these results in August show that consumers are cutting their budgets," BDO Head of Retail Sophie Michael said.
"Consumers are deferring the purchase of big ticket items as households prioritise essential spend," Michael said.
Slower sales growth for fashion and lifestyle items raised concerns ahead of the autumn and Christmas periods, she said.
However, economists say Britain's high inflation rate - which hit 10.1% in July - now looks likely to slow after new Prime Minister Liz Truss announced a plan on Thursday to cap surging household energy prices.
(Reporting by Humza Jilani; Editing by William Schomberg)