Total sales were up just 0.7%, against a 2.8% increase recorded in November 2010 by the British Retail Consortium-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.
Internet and mail-order sales growth fell back in November after picking up in October. The increase of 8.6% was the lowest since March.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “There’s a worrying lack of cheer in these figures. The weakest increase in sales for six months suggests consumers are keeping a tight rein on their spending, despite Christmas being so near.
“Consumers are not quite in the Christmas mindset yet, although stores are working to generate much-needed sales with high levels of festive discounting.”
Helen Dickinson, head of retail at KPMG, said: “Any sales are hard won, with high discount and promotion levels. Retailers’ performance is suffering because of weak top-line growth and declining margins, making the backdrop even more challenging.
“December will require some tough decisions for a number of retailers as they struggle to plot a path in such challenging conditions.”