Sales rise fails to lift gloom

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Insolvency expert Andrew Walker is warning that an increase in estimated retail sales for November may not be the light at the end of the tunnel for Britain’s troubled high streets.

Mr Walker, who is Yorkshire regional chairman of the insolvency trade body R3, said: “The year on year increase in consumer spending seems reassuring, but we have to factor in that prices have increased by 3.6 per cent over the same period.

“The situation is volatile with both value and volumes of retail sales actually decreasing slightly month on month. Recent research by R3 shows that 60 per cent of consumers are worried about their current level of debt while retailers will have their eye on December’s approaching rent Quarter Day. Retailers will need to see a stronger showing for December’s crucial trading period.

“Bad weather and a post-Christmas shopping slump is sure to have a negative impact on many businesses, particularly smaller ones so it is important not to be complacent.”