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Tuesday, October 12, 1999 Published at 07:05 GMT 08:05 UK

Business: The Economy

Warm September hits shop sales

Marks and Spencer has been the highest profile victim of poor sales

There was little sign of a consumer boom on the UK High Street in September according to British Retail Consortium (BRC) figures.

Figures for the month showed growth in turnover increased 0.8% from a year earlier on a like-for-like basis (excluding new stores and new floor space).

This increase was virtually flat against the August figure of 0.7%.

Again sales volumes increased but prices continued to fall.

The BRC said September was a month of two halves in terms of items sold.

The warm first half saw unusually high levels of garden furniture, sun creams and sandals sold, while the cooler and wetter second half saw a much needed pick-up in autumn fashions and knitwear.

Consumers still uneasy

The BRC said there was no evidence that further interest rate rises were needed to control inflation.

To back its case it added that consumer confidence indicators had shown customers were more insecure about their personal financial prospects despite having confidence in the economy overall.

Sales of large items such as furniture had increased, but it was too early to say confidence was coming back, the BRC said.

Andrew Higginson, chairman of the BRC economic affairs committee, said: "Both the total sales growth and like-for-like sales growth continue to trend well below the previous two years.

"There can be no justification for interest rate rises based on concerns about consumer retail spending."

The information was collated by management advisor Deloitte Consulting on behalf of the BRC in the five weeks from 29 August to 2 October.

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