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Are retail sales about to crash in January?

The CBI's monthly survey has dealt a crushing blow to those looking for a sharp turnaround in the UK economy with a report that the sales balance fell to -8 in January from +13 in December. This monthly survey is an indication of how those in the industry have fared over the period, a period which has been impacted by the increase in VAT and the extreme weather in the UK. So what does this mean for the short term?

Whether this is a short-term dip remains to be seen but the results are even worse than those expected by UK retailers themselves, who had been looking towards a figure of -2. Slowly but surely the economic upturn in the UK is starting to unravel and there is growing concern that this constant drip, drip, drip of bad news will impact on consumer confidence and business confidence in due course.

There is no doubt that this economic downturn is proving to be the most difficult to forecast and the most difficult to follow. We have seen a number of false dawns over the last few months and while officially the UK economy moved out of recession in the final quarter of 2009 we have yet to receive the revised figures which may show otherwise.

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