On a total basis, sales were up 1.5% on August 2010, when sales were 2.8% ahead of August 2009.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “The retail sector’s performance has been essentially flat, particularly bearing in mind the increase in VAT which will be responsible for some of the growth in spending.
“The spell of hot weather at the start of the month was a boost for some retailers but it failed to last long enough to make a big impact.”
Robertson said the urban riots had not had a significant impact on sales.
“Poor consumer confidence, high inflation and the ongoing squeeze on personal finances remain the biggest threats to the retail sector,” he said.