Softer demand for Belgian merchandise was behind a fall in carpet imports at the start of the third quarter.

Carpet and textile flooring imports dropped 4.6 per cent to £69.8m in July, driven largely by a 19 per cent fall in the quantity of goods brought in from Belgium (£23m).

The HM Revenue and Customs figures show other nations made marginal gains in the amount sent to the UK, with the Netherlands (£17.6m), India (£5.8m) and China (£4.3m) all up in low single-digit percentages year-on-year.

Carpet exports out of Britain declined 5 per cent to £17m in July.