Retail sales have fallen at their fastest rate since April 2012 in December compared to expectations for a slight increase.
Falls in household goods, textiles, and clothing and footwear had some of the most marked impact on the 1.9 per cent month-on-month retail sales volumes drop.
Consensus forecasts had predicted a 0.2 per cent increase.
Helal Miah, investment research analyst at The Share Centre, says the figures go against the trend of strong consumer confidence post Brexit.
“Although it is just one month’s figures, questions will be raised as to whether these numbers are a reflection of inflation induced rising energy prices, the weaker pound or the uncertainty around Brexit going forward. It also goes against the trend of strong consumer confidence and spending on credit.”
Miah says stock market confidence in the non-food retail sector has waned in recent months and that investors need to be selective.
“We favour those retailers that have a strong brand and the ability to pass on price increase or those with a large online presence which is where the growth is.”