Retail sales growth was flat month-on-month in September, in contrast with expectations of a rise.
The value of sales was up 1.8% year on year, according to the Office of National Statistics, and volume over the same period rose 2.4%.
Fashion and footwear recorded a 1.1% fall in value growth year-on-year.
Clothing and footwear specialists’ sales volume rose 5.3% year on year, when predominantly non-food stores’ rose 1.1%.
The value of sales in the non-store retailing and repair category – which includes online – rose 10.4% and volume was 11.7% up year on year.
Retail prices are estimated to have been 0.5% lower last month than in September 2008.
Barclays Commercial Bank head of retail and wholesale Richard Lowe said: “The figures come as a bit of a surprise since anecdotal evidence had been a little more upbeat.”
But he added: “Trading habits adopted this year have ensured well managed stock levels and, with the prospect of increased sales in the build-up to Christmas, businesses look well placed to maximise their sales potential.”