Boots the Chemist has reported a 1.3% fall in like-for-like sales for the first half of 2005.

In a trading update to the City, Boots also revealed that like-for-like sales had fallen by 1.6% in the second quarter.

However, total sales for its Health division rose 0.6% and total sales for its Beauty & Toiletries division were up 3.3%. However, its lifestyle unit, which includes food, electrical and photography, reported a 3% decrease.

Richard Baker, chief executive of Boots, said: “Trading conditions have been difficult throughout the first half with consumer spending softening further over the last quarter and we see no sign that the market will get any easier.”

He added that the sale of its Boots Healthcare International business was on track. The unit recorded comparable sales of 7.6%.

Meanwhile, the CBI has revealed that retail sales volumes are falling at their fastest rate in 20 years. It latest survey found that 50% of shops said that their sales were lower this month than last September, compared with 26% who said sales were up.