Rethink rates now or face retail disaster, shops tell chancellor

Analysts suggest rising inflation is starting to rattle consumers as pre-Christmas boom comes to an abrupt halt and even once-buoyant car sales slip back

Britain’s hard-pressed retailers have urged Philip Hammond to rethink government plans for revamping business rates amid signs that rising inflation has led to the weakest high street spending in more than five years.

A report from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG found that the spurt in consumer spending seen in the run-up to Christmas had come to an abrupt halt, with the result that non-food sales are falling for the first time since the economy was flirting with a double-dip recession in November 2011.

Related: Business chiefs tell chancellor: reform business rates now to avert high street crisis

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