The British Retail Consortium has urged the Bank of England to cut interest rates by up to half a percentage point amid fears of a wave of job cuts across the high street.
According to The Times newspaper, BRC director general Stephen Robertson said retailers were under pressure from the spending slowdown to cut recruitment plans and training schemes.
Robertson said: "The Bank of England should take a quarter point off rates, and it's even getting to the stage where a half point is not unreasonable. If the economy slows down dramatically you have got to realise that one in nine people in the UK is employed in retail. Every prudent retailer is looking at cost-cutting more seriously than they have done for some time."
His comments came after accountancy firm Grant Thornton issued figures showing how bad the start of the year had been for retailers. The survey showed that 23% of retailers listed on the Stock Exchange issued negative trading statements in the first quarter of the year - more than double the 10% a year ago.