Sales volumes of non-food items fell 2.6% during March after being dampened by the weather.
According to data from the Office for National Statistics overall sales volumes slipped 0.5%, compared to a 2.5% overall rise in February.
Retail sales values increased slightly by 0.1% year-on-year in March, although this was largely driven by food and online retailing.
Month-on-month sales volumes compared to February declined 0.7% while values remained flat.
Deloitte UK head of retail Ian Geddes said: “Today’s figures reflect a disappointing Easter performance.
“The industry hoped for a strong annual increase in sales, given the Easter break fell in March this year as opposed to April in 2012. In particular, the fashion sector suffered due to the prolonged winter weather. Spring/summer collections were left out in the cold as consumers delayed seasonal purchases.”
However online spend increased 20.5% to £601.4m compared to March last year.
Barclays’ head of retail and wholesale Richard Lowe said: “While March’s Arctic blast discouraged consumers from heading into stores, it didn’t stop them from shopping from the comfort of their homes.”