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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 June, 2005, 07:27 GMT 08:27 UK
Sales suffer at House of Fraser
House of Fraser store
House of Fraser says market conditions are 'challenging'
Department store group House of Fraser has seen its sales slip in the face of tough trading on the UK High Street.

The retailer said like-for-like sales fell 3.2% in the first 19 weeks of its financial year.

House of Fraser said trading conditions had "continued to be challenging in the early part of this year".

The company is the latest retailer to feel the pinch as higher interest rates and a cooling housing market put a brake on consumer spending.

'Pretty bad'

Everyone knows the big ticket market in the UK is pretty bad at the moment with the slowdown in the housing market - people are spending less redoing their homes
John Coleman, House of Fraser chief executive

High Street icon Marks & Spencer, pharmacy chain Boots and budget clothing chain Matalan have all reported a decline in sales recently.

Meanwhile, fashion chain Next said in March that it was "cautious" over the prospects for consumer spending in 2005.

House of Fraser warned at the beginning of the year that its sales were suffering because of store closures and shop refurbishments.

The company said sales at its home division had fallen 1.4% during the period. However, sales at its fashion division performed better, rising 3.6%.

"Everyone knows the big ticket market in the UK is pretty bad at the moment with the slowdown in the housing market. People are spending less redoing their homes," chief executive John Coleman said.

In early trade on the London Stock Exchange, shares in House of Fraser were down almost 1% at 98.25 pence.

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