Floor coverings group Carpetright sent another shiver through the retail sector after reporting a further deterioration in sales.
The group yesterday said like-for-like sales - stripping out store openings - fell 5.9 per cent in the 25 weeks to April 23, against a decline of 3.8 in the first 13 weeks of its financial year.
It also said the collapse of department store chain Allders led to a small shortfall in sales and profits.
Carpetright said it was now trading from 26 department stores after 21 concessions in Allders sites were closed down. However, it said the move to stronger trading locations should improve its performance.
The company, which has 375 stores in the UK and Ireland as well as its concessions, has been hit by weak UK consumer spending in recent months.
However, chairman and chief executive Lord Harris of Peckham remained upbeat about its prospects.
He said: "Whilst the trading environment has become more difficult in recent months, we believe that our strong competitive position and further expansion plans will enable the business to continue to grow market share."
Lord Harris added the group had maintained its strategy of moving from prime sites to out-of-town business parks.
Total sales were 3.8 per cent lower, against an increase of
0.5 per cent in the first 13 weeks. The group is due to post results for the year to April 30 at the end of June.
Analyst Richard Ratner at stockbroker Seymour Pierce estimated that same-store sales were eight per cent lower in the last three months and that the worst trading period could have been March and April.
He said: "These are poor figures, but we do not think that they differ greatly from what other household goods retailers are experiencing at present.
"Moreover, in a prolonged downturn there will be casualties and Carpetright should benefit from this."