Carpetright’s UK and Ireland like-for-like sales fell 2.9 per cent in the five weeks to January 31.

This figure excludes the performance of its bed business Sleepright, which it acquired last year.

Total UK and Ireland sales in the period climbed 7.9 per cent.

In the 13 weeks to January 31, like-for-likes, excluding Sleepright, slumped 15.9 per cent. Total sales decreased 13.2 per cent, including a 2.2 per cent contribution from Sleepright.

Group sales dropped 9 per cent in the 13-week period, with a portfolio of 696 stores at the end of the period.

Carpetright chairman and chief executive Lord Harris of Peckham said: “As I have said before, the UK trading environment is more difficult than at any time in my working life, with a constant news flow of financial turmoil and redundancies. Until we are able to see some confidence in the economy return, trading will continue to be challenging. Sales in January are an improvement on the trends seen in November and December. Our gross margin remains level with last year, in line with our expectations.”

At Carpetright's business in the rest of Europe, which includes the Netherlands, Belgium and Poland, sales in local currency increased 10.1 per cent, with like-for-like sales down 0.6 per cent.

Lord Harris said: “Trading in the rest of Europe has not been immune from the current instability in world financial markets, and the rate of growth has slowed. However, we continue to grow the business and increase our market share.”