Interest rates and taxes also blamed
JJB Sports has delivered a shock trading statement showing the retailer's performance has foundered in the past few months.

In the 16 weeks to May 22, total turnover has fallen by 7.5 per cent compared to the same period last year because of a difficult trading environment, according to the retailer. Like-for-like sales have also fallen, by 7.7 per cent.

The retailer's trading is also suffering from unflattering comparatives - last summer, football fans rushed to buy replica football kits for the Euro 2004 competition. JJB said this trade would return as fans prepare for the FIFA world cup next year.

Chairman David Whelan blamed JJB's fortunes on the wider economic malaise. He said: 'I believe that these conditions will continue to deteriorate with the impact of higher interest rates and taxes, which reduce disposable incomes, and that the low level of confidence among consumers is going to take some time to reverse.'

However, Whelan is confident that provided JJB can keep tight control of costs, profitability for the group would not be damaged.