UK retail sales slid 1.8% in February, new figures published today (10 March) by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) show, as snowy weather in the first week of the month and the end of January's clearances kept shoppers away.

Non-food sales fell further below their year-earlier level, with sales of women's and men's clothing seeing their worst month since April 2008.

On a total basis, sales rose just 0.1% in the four weeks to 28 February 2009, compared with the same month last year.

"These are disappointing figures," said BRC director general Stephen Robertson. "It's now clear we were right to fear January's surprise year-on-year sales rise was just a discount-driven blip.

"The short burst of spending unleashed by January clearances has largely vanished, replaced by sales as weak as most of last year."

He added that every non-food sector, apart from children's clothes, saw like-for-like sales down on a year ago.

Indeed, in the three months from December to February, like-for-like sales of non-food items such as clothing and footwear have fallen by 5.3%.

Helen Dickinson, head of retail at KPMG, said clothing sales dropped off again in the last week of the month following headlines about the worsening economic outlook.

"Battling falling sales is not a sustainable prospect for many retailers in the non-food sectors, particularly as the impact of rising import costs is also filtering through to their margins," she said.

February's sales slide comes after like-for-like retail sales in January rose by a surprise 1.1%, although sales of non-food items fell by 1.6%.