The latest sales figures released yesterday by the British Retail Consortium (BTC), in conjunction with KPMG, confirmed the retail slowdown.
The data revealed that retail sales in the UK in April fell by 4.7 per cent on a like-for-like basis - the greatest monthly drop since records began in 1995.
Whilst the drop was only 1.3 per cent on a total basis compared with a year ago, the poor weather, early Easter and consumer caution saw trade worsen across the board.
Sales of discretionary purchases and non-essentials - such as clothing, footwear and white goods - were particularly hard-hit as consumers tightened their belts and stayed at home.
"A slowing housing market, pre-election economic uncertainty and the continuing threat of interest rate rises dominated consumer confidence in April," said Kevin Hawkins, director general of the BRC.
Helen Dickinson, head of retail at KPMG, added: "In case anyone still needed convincing, these figures confirm it - trading on the high street is tough."
The BRC is using the data to call for the Bank of England to lower interest rates. On Monday the Monetary Policy Committee voted to keep them at 4.75 per cent for the ninth consecutive month.Click here to compare credit card offers and get spending.
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