Chairmen of leading retailers have urged the Government to take “practical steps” to boost consumer confidence.

According to a survey of 24 leading retail chairmen, including John Lewis Partnership chairman Charlie Mayfield and Alliance Boots executive chairman Stefano Pessina, the biggest issue facing store groups in the battered economy is falling consumer confidence.

The majority of chairmen who participated in the report, compiled by headhunters Korn/Ferry Whitehead Mann, believe the Government should play “the lead role in shifting the mood of the nation”.

Sainsbury’s chairman David Tyler said: “Fear of unemployment is affecting consumer confidence. Yet the consequences of government and EU job protection measures are to dissuade employers from taking on new workers because of the costs and regulatory burdens involved. We need employers to have the confidence to hire workers if we are to get the economy moving again.”

JJB Sports chairman Mike McTighe, said: “Government should treat the UK economy as though it were a business requiring turnaround. The principles include a clear assessment of the issues, putting in place the right leadership team and honest communication of the challenges, but just as critical is the need to generate hope and excitement for the future.”

The majority of the chairmen believe the Government has performed “reasonably well” since coming into office in its approach to cutting the deficit.

Voices of the report