The high street has endured a seventh consecutive month without sales growth despite increasing consumer confidence and spending power, figures show.
August recorded a 1.5% drop in overall year-on-year sales, meaning retailers have failed to increase their figures since January, according to the BDO monthly High Street Sales Tracker (HSST).
Sales of lifestyle goods, up 0.7% year on year on the back of tourists taking advantage of the weak pound, and a flurry of sporting activity inspired by the Rio Olympics could not compensate for a continuing poor performance by the fashion sector.
Heavy discounting failed to stem a 3.3% drop in fashion sales, which dropped by 9.6% in the last week of August as sales ended and many shoppers took a late summer holiday.
Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO LLP, said retailers had "failed to put last summer's woes behind them and deliver a positive story for 2016".
She said: "Footfall was up for most of August, but the majority of retailers struggled to consistently translate recent positive consumer sentiment and increased spending levels into in-stores sales."
But she added: "A real success story for some British retailers has been their ability to tap into shoppers' increasing desire to use non-store channels, and this will leave online savvy retailers very well positioned as shoppers' habits continue to evolve."