The poor weather across Western Europe and rising interest rates are being blamed for weak growth in UK retail sales in July, according to the British Retail Consortium.

UK retail sales rose 1.2% on a like-for-like basis, compared with July 2006, when sales were up 3.4%. July's growth was the weakest since November 2006 and half the monthly average for the second quarter.
 
The three-month trend rate of growth fell to 2.1% from 2.5% in June, for like-for-like sales, and to 4.1% from 4.6% for total sales, reflecting the continuing growth of retail space.
 
"As in June, sales patterns were distorted by exceptional weather both this July and last July, as well as last year's World Cup. Food sales fell against last year's heatwave and World Cup. The torrential rain this year continued to hit clothing and footwear, DIY and gardening, but benefited department stores and out-of-town centres. Growth in homewares and furniture slowed and was still largely discount-driven," a statement said.

It continued: "Consumer spending is being squeezed by interest rates. Plans to buy big-ticket items have been scaled down and heavy discounts are often needed to attract customers."