UK clothing and footwear prices fell at their highest rate in July since records began, as retailers turned to promotions in an effort to drive sales.

The 9.7% deflationary slump, 3% deeper than June, helped drive overall shop prices down 0.5% in July, compared to 0.2% the month before, according to the latest BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index..

Non-food deflation reached 2.1%, compared to 1.9% in June.

That meant that non-food prices hit their lowest rate since December 2008, while clothing and footwear accelerated to its deepest deflation rate since the Index began in December 2006.

However, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) stressed that the period covered by the survey was 1-5 June, before the onset of the UK’s heatwave, and when retailers came into the summer sales on the back of lacklustre demand.

“Downward pressure was exerted by women’s and children’s clothing, footwear, and to a lesser extent men’s clothing and babywear,” the BRC said, adding that accessories recorded a slight slowing in its deflation rate.

“Promotional activity remains at an elevated level as retailers continue to drive sales which have also been boosted by the recent warmer weather,” the BRC said.

And its director general, Helen Dickinson, added: “Shop prices have now fallen for three consecutive months compared with last year and July’s rate showed the biggest drop for six and a half years.

“In particular, there has been significant discounting of clothing and footwear across women’s, men’s and children’s categories.”