Retail sales in the UK declined by 0.9% last month from July, according to data released by the country’s Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Sales volumes were 4.6% higher than last February, before the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, and were up by 0.3% in the three months to August.

Retail sales values, unadjusted for price changes, fell by 0.3% compared to a 2.4% decline in July.

During the month, food store sales volumes dropped by 1.2% and non-food stores fell 1.0%. due to negative results in department stores and other stores, including sports equipment and computer stores.

Sales of automotive fuel increased by 1.5% during the month due to an increase in travelling, but were 1.2% below pre-pandemic levels from last February.

Online retail sales increased to 27.7% from 27.1% in the previous month, considerably higher than the 19.7% recorded last February.

In addition, online spending values increased by 1.5% last month compared with July.

In a statement, the ONS said: “Retail sales volumes over the last three months are up 4.0% on the same period a year earlier, while August 2021 monthly volumes are unchanged from August last year.

“However, percentage change over the past year should be interpreted with caution because of base effects – lower than normal retail sales in mid-2020, impacted by store closures, social distancing and other Covid-19 restrictions.”

Earlier this month, data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Sensormatic IQ showed that retail footfall in the UK fell by 18.0% in August.

This figure was above the three-month average retail footfall decline of 24.6%.

In shopping centres across the country, footfall fell by 32.9%, while high streets experienced a 24.8% decline.

Retail parks were least affected by the trend, with just a 1.6% drop in footfall.

In July, the ONS reported that the volume of retail sales in the UK dropped by 2.5% between June and July.