United Carpets said trading has been “challenging” in the 25 weeks to September 30 as like-for-likes dropped 5.5%.

The floorings retailer said sales dropped off as “consumer sentiment across our target market remained cautious in the lead up to and post the General Election”.

It referred to demand as “volatile” in the last two years, “primarily reflecting the prevailing economic uncertainty”.

However United Carpets added that it “continues to be well positioned to defend its market share through providing exceptional value for money”.

It said its franchise model gives it a “critical advantage over more traditional retail networks”.

The retailer added: “Whilst management recognise the challenging market conditions they note the possible benefits from customers looking to take advantage of the last months before the VAT increase in January 2011.

“We will continue to offer outstanding value for money on wide ranges of flooring, far outstripping local independent competitors who cannot match the advertising spend or the depth of products available in a United Carpets store and the current market environment may well create opportunities for the Group to increase market share in key areas.

“ The Group’s long term future remains sound supported by positive cash balances, an expanding store portfolio and a well established brand.”