According to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor for December, UK retail sales declined by 0.4%, on a like-for-like basis from December 2013, when they had increased 0.4% on the preceding year.
On a total basis, sales were up 1.0%, against a 1.8% rise in December 2013. This is the slowest December growth since December 2008.
Adjusted for the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index, total growth was 2.6% (rounded), matching the December 2013 level, which was the highest since December 2009.
In December total Food sales grew for the first time since April. Over the last three months, Food showed a decline of 0.3%. The Non-Food performance was helped by the cyber-week and the end-of-season sales, particularly fashion.
Online sales of non-food products in the UK grew 7.0% in December versus a year earlier, when it had grown 19.2%. The Non-Food online penetration rate was 17.0%, up from 16.0% in December 2013.
Helen Dickinson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: "The figures for December show that the British public were in a shopping mood with total sales up one per cent on the same period last year. The Black Friday feeling continued into early December as customers bagged great deals on their Christmas gifts. The Boxing Day and End of Season sales also contributed to December's positive performance.
"It's also worth noting that this has been the best month for food sales since Easter with many of us opting increasingly for premium ranges for our festive fare.
"It's clear that targeted discounting has worked for the UK's retailers – prices have been cut just enough to encourage customers through the doors but not so much that sales growth has been completely choked off. In one of the most fiercely competitive retail environments in recent years, retailers will be encouraged by the fact their strategy for December appears to have paid off."