Retail sales in the UK declined in January 2014 after Christmas, according to the data released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The decline was the sharpest since April 2012, notes ONS.

The volume of retail sales, including automotive fuel, was down by 1.5% in January 2014 while sales, excluding, automotive fuel, also decreased by 1.5% in January 2014 as against 2.7% increase a month ago.

Sales of food stores were down by 3.4% from December, while non-food store sales increased marginally by only 0.4% in January 2014.

According to ING Bank NV’s economist James Knightley, the latest decline in sales has to be viewed in the context of the surge in sales in December and the very wet weather experienced in January, which will have deterred consumers from venturing to the shops.

Capital Economics UK economist Samuel Tombs said the sharp monthly drop in retail sales volumes in January is unlikely to herald the start of a consumer spending slowdown.

Year-on-year, retail sales volume in January, including auto fuel, grew at a slower pace of 4.3%, following December’s 5.3% rise.

Similarly, the growth in sales, excluding auto fuel, slowed to 4.8% in January from 6.1% in December 2013.