Furniture and carpet sectors suffered a reduction in sales volumes in July, contributing to the overall fall in High Street sales.

According to the latest Distributive Trades Survey by the CBI, retail sales fell at the fastest pace in over four years, with furniture and carpets stores the main drivers of the drop in overall volumes, down at -90%.

Within the survey, conducted of 132 firms, of which 66 were retailers, 24% of retailers said that sales volumes were up in July compared with a year earlier, while 38% said they were down, giving a rounded balance of -14%.

Furthermore, 9% of retailers placed more orders with suppliers than they did a year ago, and 42% placed fewer, giving a rounded balance of -34%, with orders predicted to fall further next month.

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI chief economist, said: “While conditions in the retail sector have weakened, we should be careful about reading too much too soon, as consumers were likely to err on the side of caution in the immediate period following a vote to leave the EU.

“Current low levels of inflation and high overall employment should support consumer spending in the near term, although the impact of lower sterling is likely to feed through to higher inflation over time.

“What businesses and consumers need now is calm and decisive leadership, a clear timetable and a plan for negotiating the UK’s future outside the EU to restore confidence.”