If any retailer remains doggedly optimistic about consumer spending, it’s time to think again. As Katie Kilgallen discovers, in an exclusive poll by ICM for Retail Week, the facts speak for themselves.

Of the 1,050 consumers surveyed, two thirds believe economic turmoil will increase over the next 12 months. Nearly a third fear for their jobs and 42 per cent feel they have less to spend.

Unfortunately for retailers, the impact of the economy on UK shoppers is far more than media hype and few retailers will escape unscathed. As ICM research director Steve Parker says: “It tells a gloomy story. If you look at the general thrust of this survey, people are not upbeat.”

It’s no longer a question of if or when an economic slowdown will hit the UK high street, but how bad it will be and for how long. You only need to listen to the names at the helm of some of the UK’s biggest retailers to see that times are tough. At the Retail Week Conference earlier this month, Marks & Spencer chief executive Sir Stuart Rose said: “Nobody predicted the economic situation would be as bad as it has become.” And Carphone Warehouse founder Charles Dunstone added: “The pressures of all those cost increases are beginning to bear on people.”