Senior economist points to falling customer spend

Falling consumer spending spells problems for retailers relying on sales growth to improve their lot, as well as landlords looking to increasing retail turnover to drive rents, HSBC senior economist Mark Berrisford-Smith told the conference.

He forecast that the coming years will see a brake on consumer spending in a period of 'new stagnation', characterised by slow economic growth.

But Britain is still likely to be the strongest of the G7 and European economies.

Berrisford-Smith said: 'Low inflation and interest rates meant consumers had been happy to take on debt. People will not for ever and a day spend their money faster than they are getting it.'