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Friday 05th of December 2008
July 29, 2008

High Street experiences worst month in 25 years


by Kay Murchie
”High

Sales on the High Street have slumped to their lowest level for a quarter of a century.

Figures from the CBI show that 61% of businesses said activity was lower in July compared with a year earlier while just 25% said it was higher.

The CBI said the resulting balance of minus 36 points was the weakest since its distributive trades survey commenced in 1983. Retailers are expecting another gloomy month in August.

Commenting on the figures, Andy Clarke, chairman of the CBI distributive trades panel, and retail director of Asda, said this summer is turning out to be a gloomy one for several retailers.

Rising food and fuel prices mean that consumers are having no choice but to cut back. The decline in house prices has meant that sales of home furnishings and white goods this month are down, added Mr Clarke.

Providing good value to the consumer is now paramount if retailers want to entice consumers, said Mr Clarke.

Retailers to announce poor results include Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and more recently, Woolworths.

The only retailers to buck the trend are supermarkets and sellers of footwear and leather goods, according to the survey.

Howard Archer, economist at Global Insight, said the figures from the CBI are disappointing and it is clear that consumers are now reining in their spending.

The figures have led to City economists warning that Britain is on the brink of recession as the slowdown in consumer spending gathers pace.

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