Latest figures from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) found that sales of groceries, books and stationary were better than last year.
However, sales of clothing, furniture, carpets and DIY goods were all on the slide.
The survey also found that retailers’ expectations are at their lowest for 13 years.
Only 29% of retailers said that they expected better sales volumes in June compared with 34% expecting lower sales. The balance of -5 was the lowest since August 1992.
However, 33% of retailers reported better sales, compared with 41% who fared worse. The balance of -7 was up 7 points on last month.
A further survey by GfK Martin Hamblin also failed to lift spirits. The index fell from 0 in April to -1 for May, with more consumers deciding to save rather than spend and fewer willing to make big purchases.