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The latest figures released by the British Retail Consortium reveal a drop in like for like sales in January 2012 of 0.3 percent, in comparison with January 2011. December sales rose by 2.2 percent as consumers maximised discounts to do their Christmas shopping.

Although it was hoped by many that the rise in December sales would be good news for retailers in the long term, consumers have returned to caution in January 2012. Like for like sales fell by 0.1 percent throughout 2011. The Confederation of British Industry also had bad news to deliver, as they reported the worst January trade for the last three years.

January has also seen the collapse of a number of large companies, including Peacocks which was the largest retailer to collapse since 2008. The head of retail at a well-known accountant firm, Helen Dickinson said:

“After a stronger-than-expected December, these latest figures are rather sobering. The return to negative like-for-like sales reflects the trend seen throughout most of 2011 and is a stark reminder of the challenges facing retailers.”

Companies are faced with the constant pressure of generating demand, often with discounts. According to research carried out by the supermarket research company IGD, the number of consumers planning their grocery shopping has increased to 67 percent, up 20 percent on 2008’s figure.

However, there has been some positive news as GfK NOP, a market research company reports an increase in consumer confidence, the highest in six months. A number of retailers have also experienced healthy sales, especially John Lewis, Mulberry and Supergroup.

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