Retail sales pared in November some of the previous months' surprisingly solid gains, as consumers cut back spending on computers, mobile phones, watches and jewellery, Office for National Statistics said on Thursday.
Britain's retailers have been under heavy pressure over the past year because consumers are holding back spending as prices rise faster than wages, and rising unemployment as well as a slew of bad economic news are weighing on morale.
The Office for National Statistics said sales volumes including automotive fuel fell 0.4 percent last month, slightly more than the 0.3 percent monthly drop forecast by economists.
Excluding fuel, retail sales percent dropped 0.7 percent on the month, also more than analysts had forecast.
However, the monthly increases in September and October were both revised higher, leaving an overall gain in retail sales of 0.7 percent over the three months to the end of November, the strongest 3-monthly rise since August 2010.
A number of well-known British retailers have collapsed due to the weak consumer demand and even giants like supermarket chain Tesco are feeling the pain.
The Bank of England, which has launched a second round of asset purchases in October to support the economy, expects some relief for consumers next year, when inflation is seen falling sharply.
But with unemployment at its highest level in 17 years, a renewed recession looming and banks reluctant to lend, consumers are unlikely to provide the economy with a major boost any time soon.