Like-for-like UK retail sales values fell 2.2% in October compared with 2007 and total sales were lower than a year ago for the first time since April 2005 according to the latest figures from the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said, "These are seriously poor numbers, especially in the run up to Christmas. For the first time in three years total retail sales fell into negative territory - further evidence of how difficult trading conditions are for retailers."
However, the specific news for DIY and gardening was far less bleak: "The weak housing market continued to hit larger DIY projects. Squeezed personal finances led to a shift towards improving rather than moving home, which helped support trade building and hardware. New ranges helped indoor décor. Gardencare and tidying picked up on milder dry days."