Retail sales volumes dipped 0.7% in November from the previous month according to the Office of National Statistics despite the Christmas shopping season kicking off.
Sales values also fell 0.5% from October. Both figures exclude the sale of fuel.
Year-on-year retail sales rose 0.7% in volume and jumped 4.6% in value however prices increased by 3.6% over the period.
British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson said the figures paint a rosier picture than the reality on the high street. He said: “The evidence we’re receiving suggests consumers have approached this Christmas with great caution, reining in their spending in November and leaving it late to start their Christmas shopping.”
“The continuing high levels of pre-Christmas discounting and promotions are another symptom of weak demand. Retailers know they need to fight hard for every pound that’s out there in the hope of attracting business which would otherwise go to their rivals. “
Online sales continued to soar with average weekly spend rocketed to £787.9m in November from £546.4m last month. Non-store retailing has climbed 18.9% in volume and 19.1% in value year-on-year.