The boss of one of Britain’s biggest retailers has warned of tough times on the High Street.
Comet’s Hugh Harvey admitted sales of big value electrical goods like fridges and washing machines were suffering as shoppers tighten their belts.
Mortgages, fuel and utility bills are all going up and the consumer is feeling the pinch.
Mr Harvey told Sky’s Jeff Randall that although sales of “white goods” were being hit, they were more than offset by new technology.
Some of the biggest fashion brands in the high street do not do enough to ensure the overseas workers who make their clothes are lifted out of poverty, a report published today claims.
The study, by the charity War on Want and the anti-sweatshop coalition Labour Behind the Label, has identified Matalan and Mothercare, two companies featured in a Guardian investigation into the pay and conditions of workers in Bangalore, India, as among the “worst offenders”.
It claims that they are failing to accept the need for overseas garment workers to be paid a “living wage” by their suppliers, that they have no information available on pay levels, and that they failed to respond to questions put to them by the report’s authors.
Today’s report, Let’s Clean Up Fashion, launched on the eve of London fashion week, criticises retailers including Marks & Spencer, Tesco and H&M, for what it claims is their “unambitious” and “disappointing” approach to improving the wages of those who make their clothes.
Retail sales dropped at their sharpest rate in four years in January, despite heavy discounting in many stores.
Sales fell 1.8% during the month, although they were up 3.3% on the year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported.
Among the worst-hit areas on the High Street were household goods shops and clothing stores.
The weaker January sales came despite prices in stores being on average 0.4% lower than a year ago, the ONS said.
Growth in high street sales slowed slightly last month, rising at an annual pace of 2.4 per cent, the British Retail Consortium reported.
The September rate was slightly down on August’s figure of 2.5 per cent. The BRC pointed out that the slowdown came despite the drop in sales in the same month last year when spending was dented in the aftermath of the bombings in London.
Total sales, which takes into account changes in floor space, also moderated in September, to an annual rate of 5.2 per cent from 5.5 per cent the previous month. Both like-for-like and total sales are the weakest since July.
Retailers are braced for an uncertain few months after a slowdown in High Street sales growth in August.
Comparable sales were up just 2.5% last month compared with a 3.4% surge in July, said the British Retail Consortium.
And it warned of difficult times ahead amid rising interest rates and growing concerns over the level of debt taken on by consumers in the UK.