Experts also highlighted the likely impact of the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases prompting people to isolate as well as the world shortage of chips retain power to the computer and telephone.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said retail sales volumes in July were down 2.5% from the previous month, taking them to the lowest level since stores reopened in April after the lockdown .
It was the biggest monthly drop in retail sales since January of this year and, outside of pandemic lockdowns, the biggest since 2010.
The performance was well below economists’ expectations for a slight increase in sales – and came after food store sales were boosted in june by euros.
Grocery retailers have also not been helped by the further easing of restrictions linked to the pandemic, which has opened up more spaces for consumers to spend their money.
The ONS added that heavy rains have led to a decrease in road use, leading to a decrease in fuel demand.
Clothing retailers, already under pressure, suffered a further decline while second-hand, computer hardware and telecom stores also suffered a decline.
Despite the setback, retail sales are still ahead of pre-pandemic levels.
The proportion of sales made online climbed to 27.9% in July from 27.1% in June, from a pre-pandemic level of 19.8% in February last year.
But it was below the levels of more than 30% seen during the lockdowns.
Samuel Tombs, UK chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: “The sharp drop in retail sales in July can be attributed in large part to the increase in COVID-19 cases, which has prompted some households to avoid stores and forced others to isolate themselves. “
Martin Beck, senior economic advisor for the EY ITEM Club, also said the impact of consumers being ordered to stay at home was a factor.
Sarah Coles, Personal Finance Analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “As anyone who has made the decision to jump into a new games console for the holidays knows, chip and carrier shortages have also limited sales of those. -this.
“This is one of the reasons that sales of new computers, telecoms and electrical devices have plummeted. ”