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High street retail enjoys strongest January in three years

LONDON - High street retailers have experienced the biggest increase in January takings in the last three years, the British Retail Consortium has announced, but it urges retailers not to get too excited.

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The BRC's index, which strips out the effect of increased retail space, showed like-for-like takings were up 3.1% on January 2006.

Food sales came in the strongest since July but clothing sales slowed and furniture fell further below levels reported this time last year.

Clearance sales achieved strong growth but often at the expense of margins. The BRC also reported that consumer confidence has dropped since Christmas and that discounts are still a big driver of sales.

Kevin Hawkins, director general of the BRC, said: "The momentum which built up in December has carried through into the New Year and this is the best January report for three years. It comes, however, with a strong note of caution. Much of the growth has been driven by the grocery sector and discounting has been fairly widespread in several other categories."

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