Retailers suffered a weak August, with like-for-like sales down 0.6 per cent on the year.
This is according to new figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which suggest that total sales were up just 1.5 per cent when compared with a year previously.
Like-for-like sales figures do not include new stores.
The survey also suggests that despite predictions, the riots had little impact on sales.
The figures follow a raft of weak economic data yesterday, including a survey showing that growth in the service sector suffered its sharpest drop in a decade.
Meanwhile IMF head Christine Lagarde urged European companies to abandon austerity measures and instead stimulate growth through spending.
Chancellor George Osborne is coming under increasing pressure to switch to a so-called ‘Plan B’. Many commentators now suggest that wage growth is too low, and inflation too high, to rely on a debt-driven, consumer-led recovery, while manufacturing is too weak to deliver export growth.