While post-Christmas sales attracted Brits to the high street in January, February bought dwindling numbers off the back of consumer uncertainty, largely due to falling wage growth and a slowing economy.
The latest figures from CBI's distributive trade survey gave a reading of +10 for February, down from +16 on January and below predictions.
Meanwhile, retailers' expectations for sales in the month ahead eased to their lowest level since 2013.
The survey also showed that businesses in the sector intend to scale back investment spending slightly in the year ahead.
Overall, conditions remain challenging for retailers.
"Although sales have continued to grow and optimism has risen, expectations for sales growth are lacklustre and retailers are still wary of investing,” said Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Director of Economics.
"But retailers still stand to benefit from the low level of inflation and strong job creation across the economy, which should continue to support household spending."