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Retail spending still ‘squeezed very hard’

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Retailers stayed under the cosh in February, with flat sales and rising costs adding to their woes, said the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

In the three months to February sales growth slowed to 0.9%, down from 1.1% in the three months to January. Like-for-like sales rose by a meagre 0.6% in February, following a weak February 2005 when sales actually fell 0.3%.

“Contrary to the Bank of England’s expectations, there is no sign of an upturn,” said BRC director general Kevin Hawkins. “Reports of a recovery in the housing market have yet to work through to the big-ticket price categories.”

Retail analyst Debbie Harrison said: “It’s not looking good for retailers so far. They’ll just have to suck it and see this year.”

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