The latest figures from the British Retail Consortium-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor show that retail sales fell in May, down 2.4 per cent compared with May last year.
BRC director-general Kevin Hawkins (pictured) said: 'These figures should remove any lingering doubt that we are now in a consumer-led recession.'
Inconsistent weather and the slowing housing market have both contributed to poor sales figures.
The housing market slowdown has meant a hard month for vendors selling white goods, such as washes, fridges and cookers and household furnishings.
It was hoped that a prolonged period of good weather would help counter the ongoing slowdown in consumer confidence. However, the warm weather didn't last long enough to bring a warm glow to sales of furnishings, clothing, footwear and health and beauty products.
KPMG head of retail Helen Dickinson said 'Although this [the weather] excuse is often trotted out as the reason for sluggish sales, there is no doubt that it really has impacted trading this month, in a tough environment. May 2004 was warm and sunny across the country, but we have yet to see that repeated for anything more than a day here or there this year.'