B&Q parent Kingfisher and Marks & Spencer were among the day's fallers following data showing an unexpected 0.6% drop in sales between December and January, confounding expectations for a bounce back.
The FTSE 100 trod water – closing 0.9 of a point higher at 6328.3 – as investors waited for news from the G20 meeting of financial ministers in Moscow.
Sterling regained some of this week's lost ground after a difficult week in the wake of stubbornly high inflation and a gloomy inflation report from the Bank of England, with the pound up against the US dollar and the euro at 1.55 and 1.16 respectively.
Among stocks, retailers littered the fallers board after the January sales disappointment, led by Tesco with a 2% fall, down 5.8p to 364.8p.
Sainsbury's followed suit, down 4.8p to 331p, while Kingfisher lost 3.1p to 272.6p and M&S dropped 2.4p to 387.1p.
Mining giant Anglo American was on the front foot after reporting better-than-expected annual underlying earnings, despite reporting a bottom-line loss of £154 million after hefty writedowns. The group's shares lifted 26p to 2039p after it posted annual earnings on an underlying basis of £1.8 billion for 2012.
While Anglo was enjoying share gains, news of a contract change between the group and Johnson Matthey sparked share falls for the platinum refiner.
Johnson Matthey, which makes catalytic converters for cars, fell 5p to 2294p after saying it expects to suffer a loss of commission income of around £35m after Anglo American Platinum decided not to renew a market development deal.
Utility giant Severn Trent was also in the spotlight after a trading update revealed its commercial customers were continuing to use less water. Shares initially fell into the red, but later stood 5p higher at 1584p.
Broker Tullett Prebon was one of the biggest fallers in the second tier after a Financial Times report said one of the firm's employees had been implicated in the Libor rate rigging scandal. Shares in the group fell 6% or 17.8p to 282.8p.
The biggest FTSE 100 risers were ITV, up 3.6p to 117p, WPP ,ahead 28p to 1047p, Aggreko, 39p higher at 1680p, and Intercontinental Hotels Group, up 40p to 1984p. The biggest fallers were Fresnillo, down 105p to 1550p, Randgold Resources, off 220p to 5580p, Polymetal International, 24.5p lower at 997.5p and Tate & Lyle, down 17.5p to 784p.