Retail sales values in the UK declined 0.1% year-on-year in October 2012 on a like-for-like basis said data released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
On a total basis, retail sales were up 1.1% for the month against a 1.5% rise recorded in October 2011.
The agency noted that this was the lowest growth in total sales since November 2011, excluding the Easter month with the slowdown felt across all categories, including online sales.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said excluding April, October saw the worst sales growth since last November.
"And October’s poor performance wasn’t a one off. Year-to-date average growth hasn’t outpaced inflation meaning overall sales volumes going backwards," Robertson added.
"Within that, October’s online, non-food, results were especially poor"
"The last three months now include the two weakest growth rates we’ve recorded in four years."
Clothing and footwear sales grew into double-digit like-for-like growth in the first week but then gradually fell in the latter half of the month, BRC noted.
Commenting on the figures KPMG retail head David McCorquodale the market remains competitve for retailers hoping to cash in on the upcoming holiday season.
"The recession may officially be over but it will take a little longer for consumers to feel they can spend freely again," McCorquodale added.
"However, the disappointing sales figures for October indicate that winning share of the Christmas wallet will be just as competitive over the next two months as it was last year."