Retail sales slid in May as dismal weather triggered the biggest monthly drop in fashion sales in nearly four years.

Retail sales volumes in May declined 0.5% compared to the previous month, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This decline was exacerbated by a 4.5% month-on-month decline in clothing sales during the period – the steepest fall since July 2015.

On a year-on-year basis, retail sales volumes rose 2.3% in May.

On a three-month basis, retail sales increased 1.6% with growth recorded across all sectors except for department stores, in which sales declined 0.9%, down for the eighth consecutive month.

Online revenue accounted for 19.3% of overall sales in May and was up 8.2% compared to the same month a year earlier.

ONS head of retail sales Rhian Murphy said: “Retail sales continued to grow in the latest three months despite two consecutive monthly falls, with clothing sales declining considerably in May, due to unseasonably cold weather.

“We see quite a mixed picture across the rest of the sector as the decline in department store sales continued, with no growth since September of last year.”