High street retailers show their resilience

Britain's retailers continue to defy predictions of a consumer spending slowdown, with companies at very different ends of the high street publishing positive trading updates yesterday.

Burberry, the fashion giant, said its sales had risen by 6 per cent during the first half of its year, adding that profits were now likely to come in above previous expectations of around £200m. Meanwhile, Primark, the discount retailer, said it was also seeing strong demand continuing, with profits up 18 per cent during the first half to £144m.

The growth of the online sector also appears to be continuing apace, with Asos, which sells fashion over the internet, reporting yesterday that its sales were up 38 per cent over the year to the end of March. Nick Robertson, the company's chief executive, said he had actually been too cautious about stock last year.

The only sour note from retailers yesterday was sounded by Thornton's. It warned that disappointing sales in the run-up to Easter, when it lost out to supermarkets, had forced it to revise profits forecasts.

Higher unemployment, static earnings and the fear of tax hikes to come had all been expected to weigh upon consumer sentiment during the first few months of 2010. But the high street has so far proved more resilient than expected.

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