Blog: Leonie BarrieSlowdown on the high street

Leonie Barrie | 16 April 2008

It’s one thing to warn about the tough times retailers are facing – but another thing entirely when these warnings come true.

Coinciding with an update yesterday from the British Retail Consortium that consumer confidence has fallen to new lows and that UK retail sales in March put in their worst performance since July 2005, news from the high street shows just how difficult it is to do business at the moment.

Profits at department store group Debenhams have fallen 12% to GBP94m in the half-year to the end of March; fashion store MK One has been put up for sale by Baugur after posting a GBP17.4m loss last year; discount clothing chain Ethel Austin has called in the administrators, putting nearly 3000 jobs at risk; and JJB Sports is to shut 72 stores with the loss of around 800 jobs.

As the BRC said yesterday, a critical period lies ahead which will show how effective retailers have been in satisfying the needs of customers increasingly intent on hunting out value from a competitive marketplace.

But for the time being, the actions deemed necessary for survival by some retailers say more about the state of the market than words ever could.

UK: March retail sales fall for first time in two years


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