Retail sales set to paint a bleak picture of life on the high street

Helen Cahill
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Christmas Shoppers Hunt For Last Minute Gifts
Food price rises have forced consumers to divert funds towards essential items (Source: Getty)

Official statistics are set to paint a bleak picture of the retail landscape this week as businesses prepare for the most important period of the year for consumer spending.

The Office for National Statistics is expected to report this week that retail sales fell by 0.5 per cent in September, the first drop for four years, according to City forecasts.

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October was a difficult month for retailers as unseasonably warm weather impacted sales of winter ranges. High street sales slumped by 5.2 per cent on a like-for-like basis, according to accountancy firm BDO, with fashion sales down by as much as 7.9 per cent.

Meanwhile, figures from the British Retail Consortium found like-for-like sales fell by one per cent across the industry as a whole.

Retailers' Christmas campaigns are now in full swing; both Marks and Spencer and John Lewis put out their Christmas adverts last week.

However, with inflation peaking and interest rates rising, the outlook for spending over Black Friday and Christmas is uncertain. Short-sellers have been piling in to bet against Debenhams in recent weeks, underscoring the pressures faced by middle-market retailers in particular.

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