UK retail sales were down one per cent in February on a like-for-like basis from February 2013, when they had increased 2.7 per cent on the preceding year, according to latest figures from ther British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG.
On a total basis, sales were up 0.7 per cent, against a 4.4 per cent increase in February 2013.
Garden centre sales in February were 2.3 per cent down, according to the Garden Centre Association but were 5.5 per cent up for the year.
BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: "Our sales figures for February show a slower pace of growth in the retail industry than in previous months, underlining that the consumer-led recovery is still developing.
"However, this slower growth might have been expected in some ways, given the record sales figures we saw in January and the strong results that we are comparing against from last year. If they were taken together, the figures from the last three months show a 2.8 per cent average growth in the retail industry, a modest increase on the 12 month average.
"Once again, furniture and home accessories were the best performing categories. This further illustrates the impact of the continued recovery in the housing market on the wider economy. On the other hand, Food sales continued to stay relatively flat.
"Overall, these figures reflect the considerable challenges still faced by consumers and retailers in the UK. It remains to be seen how the industry will fare over 2014."
Woodcote Green garden centre general manager Phil Barnden said sales had picked up in March thanks to less rainy weather. "Sales were really positive over the weekend, and we're shifting plenty of plants and horticultural products which is always pleasing. No rain is forecast so fingers crossed."