UK retail sales values were down 0.3 per cent year-on-year. On a total basis, sales were up 1.5 per cent against a six per cent increase in December 2009.
As retailers have widely reported, snow and adverse weather during the month disrupted sales patterns and meant lost trade for some.
Non-food non-store (internet, mail-order and phone) sales growth edged up in December after picking up in November. Sales were 18 per cent higher than a year ago, against a 26.5 per cent increase in December 2009.
Stephen Robertson, director general, British Retail Consortium, said: “The unusually early winter weather made a difficult Christmas worse.
"With mounting concerns about the impact of spending cuts and the wider economy, sales growth has been weak since last summer. December was always likely to be similarly unspectacular but the snow and ice dealt an extra blow to business for many retailers.
"Catch-up shopping gave a big boost to the week just before Christmas and the post-Christmas clearances were strong for non-food retailing but neither was enough to replace every sale lost earlier in the month.
"This is no return to the dire picture two years ago, but the message for the Chancellor is: concentrate on delivering growth and leave any new burdens out of your March Budget."
Helen Dickinson, head of retail, KPMG, added: "December is the biggest month of the year with volumes 20-30 per cent higher than other month. Very
disappointingly, without the impact of the arctic weather the results would have been noticeably better.
"The gap between food and non-food grew as the non-food sectors saw a decline in the value of sales against Christmas of 2009 whereas food sales growth continued at close to the existing run rate."