Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said it looked like the modest sales revival seen in September was something of a "false dawn".
The disappointing figures are a reminder of the difficult economic realities many are still facing.
Falling consumer confidence means people are limiting spending to essential items and are cautious about committing to big-ticket and discretionary buying.
More top news
A low pressure system in the near Atlantic will bring a text book swirl of cloud - with blustery downpours as winds whip up tonight.
Jeremy Corbyn addressed supporters from the top of a fire engine after a rally spilled out into the street because so many people turned up.
In March 1992, Cilla Black became an ITV News reporter for National Trading Places Day to raise money for charity.