The UK's disastrous summer could be blamed for a big fall in sales in the retail and wholesale sector and a dramatic growth in trade for hotels and restaurants, according to a report by the Small Business Research Trust.
The report, sponsored by HSBC Bank in conjunction with the Forum of Private Business and the SBRT, said 62 per cent of businesses in the hotel and restaurant sector reported sales had risen during the third quarter, with only 15 per cent claiming they had declined - the best for three years.
This was an improvement on the already strong figures for the previous quarter, when 51 per cent said sales were up and 12 per cent that they were down.
Sales for the retail and wholesale sector had been strong in the second quarter, with 48 per cent of respondents saying they were up, compared with 14 per cent down.
In the third quarter, however, while 36 per cent reported sales growth, 37 per cent said there had been a decline.
The survey, which was carried out by the University of Liverpool Management School, suggests that the figures may reflect this year's poor summer.
Mark Beresford-Smith, senior economist at HSBC Bank, said: "The strong growth was achieved against the background of an economy which continued to expand at a healthy rate.
"Although the survey was carried out before Northern Rock, it was clear that a credit squeeze was under way."