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Retail sales fall unexpectedly

LONDON (SHARECAST) – Retail sales fell for the second month in a row in September as Britons continued tightening their belts amid tough economic conditions and fears of worse to come.

Sales were down by 0.2 percent, against expectations of a modest rise.

The figures come as most retailers sound a cautious note on future trading, even as some continue to post strong figures.

Department store Debenhams today said pre-tax profits in the year to August 31climbed by 20.6 percent from the previous year to £151m, but chief executive Rob Templeman said ‘we remain concerned about the general retail environment.’

Yesterday the Argos owner Home Retail said its customers are under pressure as it posted a fall in profits at the catalogue-based retailer.

Howard Archer, chief European & UK economist at the forecasting group IHS Global Insight, said the fall in sales was ‘worrying’ given the importance of consumer spending to the economy.

‘It can only fuel fears that the recovery is faltering markedly and it increases pressure on the Bank of England to revive Quantitative Easing in addition to keeping interest rates down at 0.5 percent for an extended period,’ he said.

 

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