BRITAIN’S high street is packed this week as millions of shoppers head to the sales.
But many chains must be bracing themselves for the ill winds of a new year which could see well-known names go to the wall.
Already several, which began discounting as early as November, have issued warnings about lacklustre pre-Christmas figures and, with the economy already stagnating, there seems every likelihood of worse to follow.
An additional reason for the problems on the high street itself is obvious in that the internet is becoming more and more popular for many consumers, making some shops little more than showrooms.
Estimates suggest shoppers spent a staggering £500m online on Christmas Day and Boxing Day alone.But the underlying problem remains the gloomy outlook for the economy.
The coalition is committed to its deficit reduction plans and it would be a deeply-embarrassing admission of error if it back-tracked on its strategy now.
Yet with numbers of jobless likely to soar in coming months, the pressure for an alternative could become irresistible.