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Shoppers 'to cut spending by £1bn'

Cash-strapped shoppers will slash nearly £1 billion from spending on non-essential goods such as electrical items, furniture and carpets next year, a new report has said.

Retail sales are expected to grow by just 1.2% to £295.3 billion in 2012 - their third slowest year of growth in the past four decades - spelling more pain for the sector, according to a report by leading retail research firm Verdict.

Sales of groceries will grow by 3.3% as consumers eat more meals at home to save money, but spending on non-food items is set to shrink by about 0.5% as the change in attitudes "from extravagant to austere" continues.

That would mean retail non-food sales will have fallen by £9.5 billion since the recession of 2008.

Electricals, furniture, floor coverings, DIY and gardening goods will be hardest hit, with sales down by about £900 million, and are unlikely to improve until mid-2013.

Clothing and footwear will grow by just 2.4%, or £14 extra per person, as a result of higher prices, but the rise in youth unemployment will hit fashion retailers.

The report, compiled in conjunction with business analysis firm SAS, will add to fears that major retailers are in danger of collapsing in coming weeks amid unprecedented levels of price reductions. It warns that the first three months of 2012 will be the most difficult period for retailers as consumers tighten their spending after the expensive Christmas period.

Verdict retail analyst Maureen Hinton said: "Conditions will ease slightly with events such as Easter, the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics improving consumer sentiment, but overall confidence will still be low."

The 1.2% growth would be the third lowest rate in the past 40 years. The only worse years were 2011, which is expected to have seen growth of just 0.9%, while there was a 0.4% fall in 2009.

Food is expected to be the best-performing sector next year, but the UK's biggest retailer, Tesco, will be "the most challenged grocer" as rivals up their competition by opening more branches, according to the report.


From Belfast Telegraph