RETAIL sales fell for the first time in 25 years last year, according to the leading UK retail industry body reports the BBC.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said total sales fell 0.1%, marking the first annual sales decline since 1995.
SaleS in November and December were particularly weak, falling 0.9%, the BRC said.
A separate report from Barclaycard found a rise in consumer confidence had failed to boost festive spending.
The payments firm, which processes nearly half of all UK debit and credit transactions, said that consumer spending growth had declined if inflation was taken into account.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “Twice the UK faced the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, as well as political instability that concluded in a December general election – further weakening demand for the festive period.
“Retailers also faced challenges as consumers became both more cautious and more conscientious as they went about their Christmas shopping,” she added.