British retail sales fell by 0.6% in January, ending a trend of year-on-year growth recorded in the sector since August 2011.
According to figures from the UK’s Office for National Statistics, the amount spent in the retail sector was the same as January 2012 but, due to rising prices, the quantity of goods declined.
The ONS figures are based on a survey of 5,000 retailers, including large chains that employ 100 people or more.
The decline in sales is blamed somewhat on the heavy snow experienced in many parts of Britain during the month, with food and fuel retailers particularly affected.
This led to a fall in sales at smaller outlets but a rise in sales for larger retailers, which were buoyed by an increase in online shopping.
According to the ONS figures, there was an 8.7% increase in the average online weekly spend in January.
The internet accounted for over 10% of all retail spending, excluding automotive fuel, during the month.