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.
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A man has been jailed for four years after he was cleared of having sex with a Shetland pony but convicted of outraging public decency.
Arguably the most striking of the IFS's conclusions is that over the last six years the wealthiest 10% have suffered the largest pay cuts.
It's still pretty wintry out there although the air over the next 12 or so hours will be fractionally less cold than it has been recently.