Retail sales volumes fell in January by 0.3% despite being expected to rise by 0.9%.
New figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed sales in January grew by only 1.3% on the previous year, the lowest growth since November 2013.
But the data showed that average weekly sales of clothing increased by £0.7 billion and internet sales of clothes increased 9.7% on last year.
Kate Davies, senior statistician at the ONS, said: “In the three months to January 2017, retail sales saw the first signs of a fall in the underlying trend since December 2013.
“We have seen falls in month-on-month seasonally adjusted retail sales, both in conventional stores and online, and the evidence suggests that increased prices in fuel and food are significant factors in this slowdown.”
Analysts said consumers were becoming wary of spending at a time when employment and earnings growth was slowing and inflation rising.
Percentage changes in January