After a generally positive January, UK retail sales were hit by a 8.1 per cent downturn in February - the second worst results since the BDO Stoy Hayward's Like-for-Like Club began.
The Club outlines weekly sales changes of more than 60 mid market retailers with some 4,500 individual stores located on High Streets through the UK.
"February 2009 will go down in the record books as being an extremely difficult month for retailers, as the realities of the credit crunch hit their businesses with a resounding thud this month," said Rupert Eastell, head of retail at BDO Stoy Hayward.
"The first week of February brought severe weather conditions not seen for 18 years to the UK's High Streets and then adding insult to injury, the timing difference with Mother's Day knocked takings during the latter half of the month.
"This double whammy resulted in the second worst like-for-like sales figures we've seen."
Fashion retailers were particularly hard hit, with sales down 9.7 per cent in comparison to this time last year.
Non fashion retailers had a slightly more positive experience, with sales down 3.7 per cent - most of which can be attributed to the calendar difference with Mother's Day. Gifts and luxury were the strongest performing sectors within non fashion.
Meanwhile, February saw homeware sales drop for a seventh consecutive month, with takings decreasing by 8.0 per cent.
Eastell added: "Although there were a number of one off events in February that distorted the picture, it is clear that consumers remain wary of making any purchases unless they are discounted heavily - value still appears to be very much at the forefront of shopper's minds."