The sales figures are the latest of a slew of grim indicators for a UK economy that is back in recession. They highlight the pressure on consumers in the wake of Chancellor George Osborne's hikes in value-added tax and amid swingeing cuts in public spending.
UK retail sales volumes rose by just 0.1% month-on-month on a seasonally adjusted basis in June, yesterday's data from the Office for National Statistics showed. The City had predicted an increase of 0.6%.
The paltry rise meant retail sales volumes in the second quarter to June were down 0.7% on the preceding three months.
This drop, the steepest three-month-on-three-month tumble in sales since March 2010, raises even further the chances the UK stayed stuck in recession in the second quarter with a further fall in gross domestic product.
Howard Archer, chief UK economist at consultancy IHS Global Insight, said the sales data pointed to "a high probability that overall consumer spending declined in the second quarter".
He added: "This makes it even more likely that GDP contracted for a third successive quarter."
Food sales fell 0.7% month-on-month in June, the ONS figures showed. Non-food sales rose 1.2% month-on-month, as volumes in the clothing, footwear and textiles category jumped 2.5%. Many clothing shops' summer sales started early this year, amid signs that retailers were at pains to clear stock which had been kept on the shelves by grim weather.
Mr Archer said: "It required earlier and increased discounting in the summer sales, particularly for clothing, to even get a marginal increase in sales volumes in June."
Figures this week from the Scottish Retail Consortium revealed the year-on-year movement in the value of sales north of the Border was poorer than that UK-wide for a 15th consecutive month. The total value of Scottish retail sales in June was up 1.2% on the same month last year. With annual UK consumer prices index inflation standing at 2.4% in June, this implied a year-on-year fall in volumes.
The British Retail Consortium said the value of sales UK-wide in June was up 3.5% on the same month of 2011. The SRC has attributed Scotland's long-running under-performance of the UK as a whole in terms of retail sales partly to the greater proportion of public sector jobs.
Duncan Irvine, head of corporate banking for Barclays in Scotland, said of the ONS sales figures: "The first reaction of many retailers north of the Border will rightly be concern, as our regional performance typically tracks slightly lower than the rest of the UK."
However, he highlighted the ONS's finding that small stores had, in June, enjoyed much stronger year-on-year growth in sales value than larger outlets of 4.1% versus 1.2%.
Mr Irvine said: "Scotland traditionally has a strong small store offering and a public which supports indigenous businesses."