Retail sales were washed out last month as the wettest April on record took a heavy toll, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

Like-for-like sales across the retail sector fell by 3.3%. Total sales slid 1%, compared to a 6.9% advance in April last year, helped by a heatwave and the royal wedding.

Food sales were down year-on-year, attributable in part to the tough comparative in 2011. Fashion and footwear were especially hard hit by this year’s cold, wet weather.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “The wettest April since records began has put a dampener on retailers’ fortunes.

“Consumer interest in summer fashions and outdoor products was washed away by constant downpours.

“It would have been difficult for this April to outperform April 2011 even with favourable weather, but these numbers are still disappointing.

“Consumers, struggling to balance their household budgets, remain reluctant to spend unless they really have to and the weakening economy is likely to mean people are even more cautious about their finances.”

Online sales rise 9% year-on-year, which was the weakest performance since November 2011.