Page last updated at 13:51 GMT, Thursday, 28 August 2008 14:51 UK

UK shops have 'summer to forget'

Shoppers in Bath
Shoppers are tightening their belts as the economy fails to grow

A report on UK retail sales has posted its worst monthly reading since it was first compiled 25 years ago.

A balance of 46% of retailers reported a fall in sales in the first half of August compared with a year earlier, said the CBI business organisation.

This was the second month in a row that the CBI's distributive trade survey had posted a record low.

With only supermarkets reporting a rise in sales, the CBI said it had been a "summer to forget" on the High Street.

Higher bills impact

The CBI said higher bills and this summer's bad weather had deterred spending.

"This has been a summer that many retailers would rather forget," said Andy Clarke, chairman of the CBI distributive trades panel and Asda director.

"The downturn in the housing market is continuing to depress sales for those shops selling big-ticket items."

The CBI survey is just the latest study to indicate that the UK economy is now weakening, with some analysts saying there is a risk it could slide into recession.

The most recent official figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that UK economic growth came to a standstill in the first quarter of this year.

The figures contrast to the most recent ONS figures on retail sales, which showed a modest recovery.

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