Value ranges and accessories held up better than spring clothing, which was hit by wintry weather. The BRC said that even upmarket fashion, which had outperformed the clothing sector as a whole for some time, showed slower growth.
Footwear had its largest decline for two years with discounts and heavy promotions failing to get shoppers out spending. Spring footwear and sandals had a slow start because of the weather, but high-leg and ankle boots did sell but at discounted prices.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “Here is the strongest evidence yet that customers are making serious economies and are increasingly concerned about the future. With recent retail profit warnings, it is further proof that trading is extremely tough.”