UK retail sales fell 1% on a like-for-like basis in August, the fifth month out of the last six to register a decline - the worst sequence of figures for three years.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said that very wet and dull weather had hit sales, despite a few sunny days and extended clearance events.

Underlying trade had remained tough with widespread discounting, it added. Food and drink sales were up on last year, but otherwise footwear was the only sector to show any growth, boosted by sales of children's shoes. Clothing sales remained poor.

"Miserable weather washed out hopes of a summer boost for retailers, already suffering the slowdown," said Stephen Robertson, BRC director general. "Prospects for customers and retailers are inextricably linked.

"Helping retailers keep prices down by cutting regulatory costs is the best way the Government can assist hard-pressed customers. It must think again on business rate supplements and empty property rates relief, and consider carefully where the minimum wage goes next."