The ONS said Friday the volume of retail sales rose 0.3 percent from December 2011 to December 2012 and the value of the goods sold on a retail level rose 0.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted annual basis over the same period.
The 12-month gain in quantity of sales was the lowest since December 1998, the ONS said.
The drag on gains was evident in December 2012 sales when both quantity and value dropped 0.1 percent from the preceding month.
The retail sector had only a slightly better end to the year in 2012 compared with the end of 2011.
Sales in December 2012 reached $13.68 billion, up from $13.52 billion in 2011, the ONS said.