Home Retail Group, owner of Homebase and Argos, said on Thursday that like for like sales in Homebase stores fell 12 per cent in the 13 weeks to 31 May to £440 million.

Like for like sales at Argos were unchanged at £929 million.

The drop in sales at Homebase stores was attributed to poor weather in March and April compared to the same period last year. Sales were also slowed by what the group called a generally difficult trading environment.

Commenting on the lack of growth in Argos sales, the group said that trading conditions were more difficult for seasonal categories and that the market for furniture and homewares remained challenging.

Terry Duddy, chief executive of Home Retail Group, said, As highlighted at our recent full-year results, Argos has begun the year in line with our expectations overall, with a resilient sales performance being driven by lower margin consumer electronics categories.

Homebase's initial trading period was weaker than anticipated, with sales impacted by poor weather conditions. While the consumer outlook remains challenging, we approach it from a position of both financial and operational strength, and at this early stage our expectations for the full year are unchanged.