Retail sales fell by 3.2% in December as Christmas shoppers took advantage of November's Black Friday sales, according to the Office for National Statistics.
It's the sharpest fall since the UK was in a CV19 lockdown in January 2021.
Demand for non-food products fell by 3.9% in December after a rise of 2.7% the month prior, while food demand dropped 3.1% compared with November's increase of 1.1%.
The shock results come amid some positive reporting from companies, including M&S and Tesco, who each posted impressive Christmas sales figures.
Economists were also surprised by the bigger-than-expected fall, with predictions of a 0.5% drop off the mark.