Struggling retailers experienced their worst year on record for annual sales in 2019, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
Total sales among the UK's beleaguered retailers decreased 0.1% last year, compared with 1.2% growth in 2018.
The figures take into account the impact of sales from Black Friday 2019, which was bigger than Christmas for sales of non-food items.
This boosted total retail sales in December by 1.9%, distorting the overall statistics for the year.
Put in context, looking at combined figures from both November and December, sales were down 0.9% year-on-year.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive at the BRC, said:
"2019 was the worst year on record and the first year to show an overall decline in retail sales.
"This was also reflected in the CVAs, shop closures and job losses that the industry suffered in 2019.
"There are many ongoing challenges for retailers - to drive up productivity, continue to raise wages, improve recyclability of products and cut waste.
"It is essential the new Government makes good on its promise to review, and then reform the broken business rates system which sees retail pay 25% of all business rates, while accounting for 5% of the economy."
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