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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M&S chief executive, Steve Rowe, has decided to take a more aggressive approach.
People are being encouraged to leave tributes and messages on the trees, which are on a trail in the city close to Manchester Arena.
Another warm sunny day tomorrow with a few showers possible