Business 15 February 2013 Retail sales drop year-on-year Corrugated bottom approaches. Print HTML ONS statistics released today show that, retail sales in January 2013 have fallen in quantity by 0.6 per cent year-on-year, the first year-on-year contraction since August 2011. The three-month trend remains positive, with the most recent quarter up 0.1 per cent on the same quarter last year. The value of retail sales is also on a downward trend, with the month-on-month and quarter-on-quarter sales declining. The ONS explains that "the timeliness of these retail sales statistics, which are published just two weeks after the end of each month, makes them an important early economic indicator", and this month, they indicate a worrying decline in consumer spending. That said, compared to last January, which saw a 1.6 per cent decline year-on-year amid snowmaggedon, the news could be much worse. This data must be read in conjunction with the earlier PMI indicators, which suggested a contraction in construction but growth in manufacturing and services. The UK economy is hovering, as it has for a while, on the border between growth and contraction. It will be the merest of technicalities as to whether we end up with a technical triple dip recession, but either way the picture is not rosy. › Reviewed: A Prince Among the Stones by Prince Rupert Loewenstein Photograph: Getty Images Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter. Subscribe More Related articles What's to be done about racial inequality? Ignore the spin - social housing is still under threat from the Conservatives Who benefits, and who loses out, from David Cameron’s housing plan?