Volume sales fell 0.8% compared to the previous month and value sales fell 0.4%, according to the Office of National Statistics. The drop is bigger than expected by analysts.
Comparisons with the previous year are more favourable with value sales 3.2% higher and volume sales up 1% year-on-year.
The ONS says that consumers spent £24.6bn (seasonally adjusted) in the retail sector in February 2012, compared to £24.4bn in January 2012 and £23.9bn in February 2011.
The figures will further dampen hopes that consumer confidence is returning but the ONS offers some encouragement on the long-term prospects saying that “the underlying longer-term movement within the series is one of growth” for both volume and value sales.
Both Next and Kingfisher, which owns B&Q, reported a rise in profits today (22 March) although like-for-like sales at both chains were 1.4% down on last year.
High street games retailer Game yesterday ceased trading its shares after admitting that they are worthless, in the latest example of a high street retailer succumbing to the ongoing economic challenges.
Peacocks, La Senza and Blacks Leisure have all fallen into administration this year.