But consortium wants interest rate cuts in run up to vital Christmas period to protect consumer confidence

BRC figures show UK retail growth

Like-for-like sales rose in the September by 3.0 per cent in the UK compared to 2.4 per cent in 2006 according to the British Retail Consortium’s Retail Sales Monitor.

The three-month trend rate of growth was unchanged from the previous month, standing at 2.1 per cent for like-for-like and 4.0 per cent for total sales. The BRC said that it largely reflected the continuing growth of retail space in the UK.

The report, however, poured scorn upon the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee’s decision to maintain interest rates at their current levels.

"There is clear evidence that disposable incomes are getting squeezed by higher living costs and the credit crunch and possibility of higher mortgage repayments is making consumers increasingly wary. As a result confidence is slipping," said BRC director-general Kevin Hawkins.

He maintained that the threat of inflation was receding adding that: "There is only one way for rates to go when the MPC meets again in a month’s time and that is down. Consumers and retailers desperately need the relief."

That viewpoint isn’t held by all though. Ian McCafferty, the chief economic advisier for the Confederation of British Industry said: "The Bank will need to be vigilant for any signs of a significant erosion of business or consumer confidence but, unless the outlook for the wider economy dramatically worsens as a result, the Bank may well sit tight until early 2008."

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