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Debenhams cautious on 2010

Despite the fact that Debenhams today released a trading statement which was in line with analyst expectations, the company is less than optimistic about 2010. Sales over the 18 week period ended January 2 rose by 0.1%, which was in line with expectations but significantly below the likes of House of Fraser which saw like-for-like sales rise by over 7%. However, Debenhams is currently in the process of reducing concessionary space in its stores and replacing them with its own line of products.

Rob Templeman, chief executive of Debenhams, highlighted the recent increase in the rate of VAT (now back to 17.5%), the general election and an uneasy feeling in the UK consumer market. Even though the festive period has been far better than many analysts and many companies had expected we have seen a raft of negative comments and cautious forecasts for 2010. This comes despite the fact that UK consumers appear on the surface to be more upbeat than ever before regarding the prospects for the UK economy.

The first six months of 2010 will give us more of an idea about the state of the UK economy as we will be over the general election and able to look to the future. While some believe that 2010 could be as difficult as 2009 there is some debate regarding this particular theory and various disagreements within the marketplace. We will just have to wait and see what 2010 holds for the UK economy!

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