High street sales failed to grow for the fourth consecutive month in March, despite an increase in footfall.
Like-for-like sales were flat last month, according to figures from accountancy firm BDO, as UK retailers failed to take advantage of the warmer weather. Footfall increased for three out of four weeks in March, up by as much as 5.2 per cent in the final week of the month.
The fashion industry was a particularly poor performer. Sales fell by 0.8 per cent year-on-year. This was, however, better than the sector's sales the month before; high street fashion sales dropped 3.4 per cent in February.
Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said: "The new season should have triggered high street spending, and retailers will be questioning why they have been unable to convert shoppers into buyers.
"As inflation is beginning to be felt against a backdrop of economic uncertainties, it is ever more important that retailers focus on product, quality, and range."
This will be most important for fashion retailers. The industry has been contracting, and it is becoming more obvious that shoppers won't buy product unless it is on sale, suggesting that either they don't really like it, or they have come to expect budget prices for clothes.
Some retailers, such as Debenhams, have been seeking to boost sales by changing their product mix away from clothing. Debenhams has been focusing on beauty instead.