Carpetright founder and chairman Lord Harris believes 2010 could shape up to be tougher for retailers than 2009.

The retailer, speaking at the Retail Week Conference last night, said: “This year is going to be like we thought 2009 would be – very very tough.

“2009 was tough but it eased up at the back end. 2010 will be tough all year.”

He said he expects VAT will be increased from 17.5% to 20%. He also believes the 50% tax rate will depress the economy and that unemployment will rise to 4 million. “It might peak a bit higher than that,” he warned.

Harris added that the banks were partly to blame for the recession, saying that they “lent too easily, banks were throwing money at people”.

He also said Government should shoulder some of the blame. “Government didn’t keep control of it”, he said.

He warned retailers should not cut back on training its staff in order to cut costs.

“Training staff is very very important, and it’s one thing you shouldn’t cut in the recession,” said Harris. “It’s much better you have your staff better trained than your competitors.”