Wales

Welsh Retail Consortium concern over high street spending

A group representing shop owners warns many are facing a tough time in the run up to Christmas.

The Welsh Retail Consortium says September was a better month for shops, but sales flagged in October.

And the Federation of Small Businesses in Wales says signs are mixed as monthly jobless figures are falling but inflation is higher than expected.

UK retail sales fell by more than expected in October as shoppers cut back on food and clothing purchases.

The Office for National Statistics said sales volumes fell 0.8% last month, having risen by 0.5% in September

John Munroe from the Welsh Retail Consortium told BBC Radio Wales that consumer confidence was at a six month low with people facing a squeeze on disposable income.

"The outlook for retail is pretty poor," he said.

"We have got to get people wanting to spend and confident that they can as well.

"Retailers are hopeful Christmas will be good for them.

'Ability to spend'

"They do a large proportion of their trade in the Christmas period... to see them through tougher times in the rest of the year.

"If costs continue to rise after Christmas and in the year ahead the outlook for retail won't be so great."

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Media captionIestyn Davies told Radio Wales he wants a clear vision for retail development on the high street to help recovery

Iestyn Davies from the Federation of Small Businesses in Wales called for a clear vision for retail development on the high street to help recovery.

He acknowledged discussions by the Welsh government but asked if there would be "an overall strategy" for retail in town centres in Wales.

He added: "Is there a vision for what we want our town centres will look like?"

Mr Davies called on the Welsh government to issue more frequent and better research on the Welsh economy to inform business decisions.

"If retail is the thing that comes at the very top of the pyramid with the economy it is difficult to know how to plan if you are a retail business without that quality real time data being on hand."

A Welsh government spokesman said: "As the Welsh government we are doing all we can to create the conditions for the private sector, including retailers of all sizes, to grow and create jobs, helping to give people the confidence and the ability to spend, which will help boost business and the Welsh economy.

"We see town and city centres as the heart of sustainable local communities - providing places to shop, do business and socialise."

He added it has set up a new fund to develop Business Improvement Districts in Wales to support local trade as part of a review of business rates.

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