Four out of five retailers who took part in the British Retail Consortium's 2010 Concerns Snapshot Survey said they expected sales to be the same as in 2009. Not one thought that sales would be worse and a fifth thought they would improve.
Heading the list of retailer concerns for 2010 was weak consumer demand, which was a worry for 22% of respondents. Unemployment came second with 20%. Followed by increases in personal taxes and weakness in the economy which were both concerns for 16%.
The bad news for staff is that a third of the retailers polled said they planned to decrease employment next year.
However, Christmas has offered a welcome respite from the doom and gloom. BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: "Despite the last- minute hurdle thrown at shoppers by the weather, it's been a healthier retail Christmas than last year. Whether sales growth this year makes up all the ground lost last December is the key question but certainly more customers have felt confident enough about their own circumstances to spend - a modestly encouraging sign for the overall economy.
"Retailers will be hoping this is a permanent turn for the better not a brief break in the gloom. It's reassuring that our snapshot shows no retailers expect sales in 2010 to be worse than this year. But factors, such as weak consumer demand and rising unemployment, are at the heart of retailers' concerns about how the recovery will pan out. The inevitable tax rises will mean people have less to spend and retailers will have to work even harder to win the battle for hard-pressed customers.
"Politicians of all parties must recognise it's business that'll take us out of recession with retail leading the way. They must bring the public finances under control while avoiding excessive tax rises that would undermine demand, jobs and consumer confidence. Targeted, substantial and genuine pruning of public spending must take priority over tax increases."