The pain of high street retailers goes on with the CBI's latest distributive trades survey pointing to flat sales volumes in April.
Of 62 companies questioned, 37 per cent saw their sales volumes down on a year earlier, with 36 per cent reporting an increase.
The net balance of minus 1 per cent was the sector's weakest since August.
The finding, much lower than expectations, confounds hopes of an Easter bounce.
Hardest hit were clothing and footwear sellers, although grocers and furniture sellers reported an improvement on last April.