Retail sales increased by 0.3% in July 2017 compared with the previous month, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
This was due to strong sales in food stores at 1.5%; recovering from a fall of 1.1% in June 2017.
The underlying pattern in the quantity bought, measured by the three month estimate, shows an increase of 0.6%.
Online sales increased year-on-year by 15.1% and by 0.3% on the month, accounting for approximately 16.0% of all retail spending.
Mike Cherry, national chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “Confidence among small retailers has plummeted over the first half of the year. We’re worryingly close to flat, or even negative, retail sales growth across the UK.
“With operating costs at their highest in four years, small business owners are paying themselves less, struggling to award pay rises and pushing up prices in an attempt to absorb increased outgoings. This threatens to further stifle already reduced consumer spending power.”
He added: “Inflationary pressure, Brexit uncertainty and delays to business rates relief measures are making it almost impossible for small retailers to invest and plan for the future.
“In this unforgiving climate, the government needs to carefully consider its inaugural budget. Stealth tax grabs in the form of hikes to fuel duty and insurance premium tax will make a bad situation worse.”