Online sales put in their worst monthly performance in nearly five years last month as consumers watched the Olympics on television rather than shop on the internet.
Non-store retailing sales volumes, which also includes mail order, fell by 6.7% between July and August, the biggest drop since December 2007, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
But the London 2012 Games had a negligible overall effect, the ONS added, as total retail sales volumes dipped 0.2% in August, following a 0.3% rise in July.
The figures echo survey evidence from the British Retail Consortium and CBI earlier this month, which also pointed to a minimal impact from the Olympics.
Samuel Tombs, UK economist at Capital Economics, said the figures "add to the evidence that the Olympics did not provide the hoped-for boost to spending on the high street".
But Mr Tombs said that even after the drop in August, retail sales volumes are still 0.6% higher than three months ago and are likely to contribute to a brief return of GDP growth in the third quarter.
He added: "With consumer confidence still very weak and inflation set to outpace earnings growth for another six months or so, we would not be surprised to see further falls in retail sales in the coming months."
Suit specialist Moss Bros is among retailers that have blamed Britain's summer of major events for slow business. The retailer said it had missed out on nearly £2 million of hire business due to events such as the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games as more weddings were deferred.
There was some positive impact from the London 2012 Games at sporting goods stores, which helped sales volumes in the "other stores" category jump 1.5% month-on-month. But this was offset by a 0.7% fall in department stores and a 2.7% fell in household good stores between July and August.
Food stores saw a slight 0.2% rise in sales volumes in the period, which some retailers put down to improved weather and the Olympics.
High Street casualties
Fall in non-store retail sales
Administrators sounded the death knell for Woolworths in December 2008, leading to store closures that left 27,000 people out of work. Since its collapse former Woolworths stores have become a blight in many town centres and more than 100 of the large stores still lay vacant in January 2012.
Loyal customers didn't have go without the family favourite store for long however as it reappeared online as Woolworths.co.uk in 2009, after Shop Direct Home Shopping bought out the Woolworths name.
The greetings cards specialist became the latest highstreet casualty in May with 8,000 jobs on the line when it was forced it into administration. Its biggest supplier, American Greetings, then bought Clintons out of administration and put the retailer through a rebrand including a new logo and complete in-store revamps.
Its contemporary format includes new fixtures and fittings and easier to navigate stores, and will be rolled out to all 400 UK stores at the cost of £16million. Bosses aim to bring the brand back to profit within two years.
Poor sales in the run up to Christmas was the final nail in the coffin for several struggling chains, including lingerie retailer La Senza, which went bust in January 2012 with 146 shops and 2,600 staff. Kuwaiti retailer Alshaya bought part of the business, which saved 60 shops and 1,000 staff.
La Senza has been struggling in a similar way to other specialist shops such as Game and Mothercare, which have been hit by cut-price competition at supermarkets and have no alternative products to help shoulder losses.
Stricken retailer Blacks Leisure, which employed 3,600 staff across 98 Blacks stores and 208 Millets stores, went into administration in Janurary 2012 after failing to find an outright buyer.
Soon after its stores were bought by sportswear firm JD Sports in pre-pack deal - an insolvency procedure which sees a company being sold immediately after it has entered administration – which saw most of Blacks' £36 million of debt wiped out.
Fashion chain Bonmarche, which was part of the Peacock Group, was sold in January when the group collapsed due to unsustainable debts, resulting in 1,400 job losses and 160 store closures. Private equity firm Sun European Partners bought 230 stores, which continue to trade with 2,400 staff.
Peacocks collapsed under a £740 million net debt mountain in January 2012 in the biggest retail failure since Woolworths. Despite being sold out of administration to Edinburgh Woollen Mill in a deal that saved 380 stores and 6,000 jobs, administrators from KPMG were forced to close 224 stores with immediate effect. This lead to 3,350 redundancies from stores and Peacocks head office in Cardiff.
The high street name continues trading as bosses work to stabilise the situation, yet a further blow was dealt this month with news that the firm's pension fund is in £15.8 million shortfall as a result of the collapse.
Game buckled under its £85m debt pile in March 2012 and was placed into administration after being unable to pay a £21m rent bill. Administrator PwC immediately closed 277 shops, with the loss of 2,000 jobs. Soon after, investment firm, OpCapita bought 333 Game stores, saving more than 3,000 jobs.
Game's demise followed a string of profit warnings and the failure of nervous suppliers, including leading names Electronic Arts and Nintendo, to go on providing the latest games, further damaging poor sales.