UK non-food retail like-for-like sales slumped 8.1 per cent in February, according to BDO Stoy Hayward's Like 4 Like Club figures, which revealed fashion sales were down on homewares.

It is the second-worst performance since the study began in January 2006, as the “realities of the credit crunch hit [retailers] with a resounding thud”.

Head of Retail at BDO Stoy Hayward Rupert Eastell said last month's “double whammy” of the most severe weather conditions for 18 years, as well as the timing difference with Mother's Day, which knocked takings during the latter half of the month, resulted in the “second-worst like-for-like sales figures we've seen”.

Fashion retailers had their worst month since the survey began, with like-for-like sales down 9.7 per cent, as shoppers were reluctant to buy spring ranges while the weather was so cold. However, some outdoor specialists benefited from snow-related sales.

Homewares like-for-likes dropped for the seventh consecutive month, falling 8 per cent in February, although the survey found there was some signs that demand for larger-ticket items is beginning to stabilise.

Non-fashion retailers experienced a 3.7 per cent decline in like-for-likes, which can largely be explained by the calendar difference for Mother's Day, according to the report. Gifts and luxury were the strongest performing sectors within non-fashion. However, the report found that demand for luxury goods is beginning to wane.

Eastell added: “As we feared, January's positive sales figures were just a blip, with results quickly reverting back to the negative levels experienced before Christmas. Although there were a number of one-off events in February that distorted the picture, it is clear that consumers remain wary of making any purchases unless they are discounted heavily - value still appears to be very much at the forefront of shoppers' minds.”

BDO Stoy Hayward's Like 4 Like Club surveys more than 60 mid-market retailers with 4,500 individual stores located on high streets throughout the UK.