Retail sales 'hurt by Olympics' in August

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Media captionBRC director general Stephen Robertson: "Increases in utility bills have dented the customers' ability to spend"

Retail sales in the UK were lower in August as the popularity of the Olympics hit traffic at stores, a survey has shown.

Retail sales fell 0.4% on a like-for-like basis from the same month last year, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

Excluding Easter, it was the weakest month since November.

"The feel good factor from the Olympics failed to inspire spending," the BRC said.

In particular, online shopping grew 4.8% in August, the lowest increase since the BRC started collecting the data in October 2008.

"There's no evidence here of any Olympic boost to retail sales overall," said BRC director general Stephen Robertson.

"Hot weather and the Olympics did help sales of party food and drink but that was more than offset by a really weak performance for non-food goods."

Shops in central London saw a sharp drop in visitors during the Olympic Games.

'More empty shops'

The BRC acknowledged this, but said that the net effect of the Games was minimal as "lower footfall in London was offset by a better performance in the rest of the country".

In terms of fashion, the autumn-winter ranges in womenswear did not attract many shoppers, the BRC said.

But women's footwear attracted more buyers than men's shoes.

Separate figures, compiled by the Local Data Company (LDC), suggested the proportion of shops lying empty increased in every region in Britain bar London between January and June.

An average of 14.6% of shops now remain empty across Britain, according to the LDC.

It said a dramatic drop in consumer spending, higher online sales and retail space expansion were to blame for the high vacancy rate.

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