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Retailers still complaining of lean times

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The console war between Sega and Sony helped boost flagging UK retail sales in October. Demand was strong for the Sega Dreamcast console, particularly in the first few days following its release last month. And Sony cut its PlayStation price, which also helped raise slow sales growth in the high street, a survey by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported today. Overall, like-for-like sales values were 1.7 per cent higher than last October, with total sales growth for the month 4.7 per cent. This was an improvement on September's 1.2 per cent and 4.4 per cent respectively. But the BRC said stiff competition was pushing up sales at the expense of profits. "This was a dull month for retailers with very little improvement on previous months. The concerns about a boom which are exercising policy makers are not reflected in the retail sales picture," said Bridget Rosewell, chief economic adviser to BRC. "Last week's increase in interest rates is bad new for retailers and must raise concerns about the Christmas period." ®

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