High street sales climbed a weaker-than-expected 0.3 per cent in July after falling in the previous two months, new figures revealed on Thursday.

According to the Office for National Statistics, said seasonally adjusted retail sales volumes were 4.5 per cent higher last month in the year-ago period, the worst annual rate for 18 months.

The results raised fears the consumer boom is over and led to speculation that interest rates could be cut to help boost shoppers' spending power.