Sales fall sharply after early summer blip

Changeable weather, after May's warm sun, hit sales in June. A few sunny days together with clearance events helped some but underlying trade remained tough, with widespread discounting.

Food and drink was the only sector to show significant growth but that was against a weak June 2007. Clothing and footwear fell back sharply after May's sun-driven boost. Furniture and homewares, both large and small, weakened further below year-earlier levels, despite continued discounts and promotions.

Consumer confidence has continued to fall, reaching new record lows. Increasing demands on household budgets and the weakness of the housing market mean shoppers are increasingly price-conscious and reluctant to spend on big-ticket items.
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