Retailers enter their ‘golden quarter’ in the run-up to Christmas this week under a cloud because of concern about higher interest rates and the credit squeeze. Financial Times

Fears have heightened that the long queues of worried depositors outside branches of Northern Rock will have prompted homeowners tighten their belts.

‘We’re just waiting for the damage to begin,’ said Will Adderley, chief executive of homewares chain Dunelm. ‘There’s something else I’m particularly bothered about and that’s inflation: there are so many bloody measures and I’ve never seen such diversity in the numbers.’

Last month JJB Sports, Dunelm, Woolworths and Next all mentioned ‘caution’ in their financial reports; Laura Ashley and Kingfisher, owner of B&Q, went for ‘tough’.