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
There are five million British expats across the globe. Many have a vested interest in May's election and many still have the right to vote.
Abba's Bjorn Ulvaeus has a boyish enthusiasm for the cashless society - and he has a challenge for ITV News viewers.
Cuba may be entering a new era of pragmatism and reform, but scratch the surface and you will discover it is still a wounded island.