Retailers suffered a slowdown in sales during October, as shoppers began to hold out for Black Friday discounts.
Data from the BRC KPMG retail sales monitor shows retail sales fell 0.2% on a like-for-like basis, compared with the same month last year.
The dip marked the weakest performance for the month of October since 2008.
The BRC blamed the results on the anticipation of Black Friday, which this year falls on November 27, when spend is expected to top £1bn.
“October was a somewhat disappointing month overall for retailers,” said BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson.
“A number of categories, which we would typically expect to be popular on Black Friday, saw a slowdown in October, suggesting that some shoppers may be holding out in the hope of some great deals at the end of November.
“Furniture had a good month, however, probably boosted by higher disposable incomes. Clothing also did well last month, driven by mid-season Sales. However, this may be to the detriment of retailers’ profit margins.”
The BRC added that Halloween falling on a Saturday meant fewer people went shopping on that key day of the week.