UK retail sales volumes were flat in November, after a sharp fall in October, according to official figures which heighten the chances of a fall in overall gross domestic product in the current quarter, writes Ian McConnell.

Howard Archer, chief UK economist at consultancy IHS Global Insight, said: "Flat retail sales in November [are] a significant blow to hopes that the economy can avoid a renewed dip in the fourth quarter."

The seasonally adjusted sales figures, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), add to the raft of gloomy indicators about the overall state of the sector as retailers prepare for the final few days of the all-important festive trading period.

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Sales in the non-specialised category, which takes in department stores, fell by 1.5% month-on-month in November, according to the ONS.

In the textiles, clothing and footwear category, sales volumes fell by 0.1%. However, there was a 3.8% month-on-month jump in household goods sales.

Food sales fell by 0.1% between October and November.

Retail sales volumes had fallen by 0.7% month-on-month in October, according to the ONS.

The flat position in November left sales volumes only 0.9% higher than a year earlier.

And, comparing the three months to November with the June to August period, retail sales were flat.