Fashion retailer JD Sports showed it was not immune from the consumer spending squeeze as it reported a fall in sales after a long spell as one of the shining lights on the high street.
The group, which operates 350 JD Sports and Size? outlets in the UK, said like-for-like sales excluding VAT in the 16 weeks to November 19 fell 1.5%, compared to 1.6% growth in seven weeks to September 17.
The Bury-based retailer said since mid-September a marked decline in consumer confidence has hit the business and warned a tough Christmas was coming.
JD Sports has outperformed its rival JJB Sports, which reported a £66 million loss at the half year stage, but the wider retail sector has come under pressure amid rising prices, muted wage growth and low confidence.
Shares in JD Sports fell nearly 8% following the update.
David Jeary, an analyst at brokers Investec, maintained his forecast for full year pre-tax profits at £72 million, which would represent a 13% drop on the previous year.
Mr Jeary said: "Falling consumer confidence and pressure on discretionary incomes is not a winning combination for most retailers."
The company reported a 1.6% decline in its sports stores, which include JD Sports and Size?, and a 0.9% decline in its 124 fashion stores, which include the Bank and Scotts chains.
JD Sports said it was experiencing "adverse pressure" on its profit margins but was working hard to maintain them and reassured that it had a "good track record" for making the most of the key festive season.
© 2011 Press Association