UK retail sales fell sharply in April, with a significant decline in petrol sales partly to blame.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that retail sales slumped by 2.3% during April, the steepest monthly fall since the beginning of 2010.
It means the 2.0% increase in retail sales in March has been reversed.
The ONS said that sales of fuel were largely to blame for the downturn in retail sales, as fuel receipts fell by 13.2% in the month.
Discounting the decrease in fuel sales, retail sales have fallen 1.1% compared with the same month last year.
Sales of clothing also declined during the month, with the record rainfall contributing to the fall.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said that a number of factors contributed to the disappointing figures.
"This is not just about petrol buying. Miserable weather sums up the mood of many customers and compounded long-standing difficulties for retailers, particularly those trying to sell clothing and shoes," commented Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC.
"Interest in summer fashions and outdoor products had been good in March's sun but April was a washout. Sales of food held up but even there spending was down on a year ago as hard-up customers sought out value even more determinedly.
"April sales were always going to struggle against a strong performance a year ago helped by better weather, a later Easter and an extra bank holiday then but real-terms sales declines are bad news."
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