Weak electricals demand hit sales at Argos in the second quarter while ongoing store closures hampered sister retailer Homebase despite improving like-for-likes.

Variety retailer Argos said sales in the 13 weeks to 29th August were down 0.4 per cent to £897m despite it increasing its store network by 52 shops to 840, most of which are digital concessions within Homebase.

Like-for-like sales were down 2.8 per cent with lower orders for TVs, tablets and white goods but a stronger performance within toys. Furniture represents a sizeable part of Argos’ business, though no reference was made to the category in its trading update.

Homebase, also part of the Home Retail Group, grew like-for-likes by 5.9 per cent with big-ticket categories singled out for delivering growth.

Total sales were down 2.8 per cent for the quarter to £378m, the result of its ongoing store closure programme that resulted in eight stores closing over the 13 week period. It now trades from 271 stores.

Home Retail Group will post its interim results on 21st October.