Non-food retail sales in the UK across stores and online fell 2.4% on a like-for-like basis year on year in the three months to 28 April – the biggest decrease since March 2009.
On a total basis, the fall was 1.6%, the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor reported.
In-store sales of non-food items in the UK fell by 3.8% year on year in the three months – a record low since the index began in January 2013.
Like-for-like in-store sales of non-food items for the three months dropped 4.9% compared with the first quarter of 2017.
Online sales of non-food products grew 6.7% in April, against a growth of 10.3% in April 2017. This is below the three- and 12-month averages of 7.1% and 7.5% respectively.
In April, UK retail sales decreased by 4.2% on a like-for-like basis from April 2017. On a total basis, sales declined 3.1% in April.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive, British Retail Consortium, said: “A drop in sales this April, compared with last, was almost inevitable given the earlier timing of Easter.
“The retail industry is undergoing an unprecedented period of change, the impact of which is being laid bare for us all to see across the nation’s high streets. Retailers are reacting to this change to ensure it represents a positive reinvention of our industry, investing in technology and innovation, and providing digital training to employees to improve the customer experience.”
Paul Martin, head of retail, KPMG, added: “Retailers have got their work cut out to overcome seemingly endless obstacles, whether it be unpredictable weather or the introduction of new regulation such as GDPR.
“The upcoming months will provide opportunities for retailers to drive sales and navigate this assault course, including bank holidays, the FIFA World Cup and, of course, the royal wedding, although it is clear that trading will remain challenging.”