The worst month for the high street since April intensified fears over more pain for the UK economy yesterday, raising speculation of a return to the printing presses by the Bank of England.
The shock, 0.8 per cent slide in sales volumes for struggling retailers during October was far worse than feared in the City and put a "serious dent" into growth hopes for the fourth quarter, according to City economists.
Despite a 1 per cent growth surge between July and September, yesterday's figures add to evidence of a tough October for the British economy.
IHS Global Insight's Howard Archer said the figures were "disappointing and worrying" with inflation also rising to 2.7 per cent.
The worst-affected sectors were food and clothing, with grocers suffering their worst month for a year. Clothing and footwear retailers endured a 2.3 per cent sales slump, the worst since an Easter-impacted April.