It was the first decline on in year-over-year growth since August 2011, ONS said.
The ONS said stores with nine employees or less experienced declines, while larger stores had an increase in sales volume in the month. "This was particularly marked in the food sector with feedback from small retailers suggesting that the heavy snow fall in the later half of January affected sales," the ONS report said.
ONS said sales receipts were little changed from January 2012, but sales at gasoline stations provided the largest drag on sales overall.
Excluding gas station sales, the amount of money spent at the retail level rose 1.2 percent on an annual basis, ONS said.