The number of positive statements has shrunk by more than 50 per cent compared with last year
The number of positive trading statements from retailers has dropped by 50 per cent to one in four. According to Grant Thornton, the number of retail companies on the London Stock Exchange releasing positive trading statements in the first three months of this year has shrunk from 55 per cent last year to 25 per cent.

Negative trading statements from retailers increased year on year from 22 per cent to 27 per cent for the period, while neutral statements doubled from 23 to 48 per cent.

Grant Thornton retail specialist Mark Byers noted that along with poor weather and dwindling consumer confidence, the lack of new, must-have products also kept people away from the shops.

He said: 'Another factor to be taken into account is a general lack of product innovations that often act as a catalyst in luring consumers into the shops. 2004 heralded the rise of the MP3 and increasingly advanced digital cameras, but this year has so far been largely devoid of innovative new products.'