Festive jitters as shoppers rein in


Hopes for a continuing pre-Christmas sales revival were dashed today amid signs that consumers are still limiting spending to essential items.

In its worst figures outside a seasonal period for 11 months, the British Retail Consortium said October's UK retail sales were 0.1 per cent lower on a like-for-like basis than a year ago, ending the modest revival in September.

The figures heighten nerves in the sector ahead of the festive period, particularly after the collapse of electricals chain Comet. Clothing and footwear sales saw double-digit like-for-like growth in the first week of the month, but then faded.