It has been reported that UK retail sales tumbled in May by 1.4%, falling more than twice as fast as the expected 0.6%.
After a healthy April, during which numerous Bank Holidays, the Royal Wedding, Easter and the warm weather encouraged consumers to indulge in 'non-essential' items, the Office for National Statistics has stated that retail sales volumes in the following month more than reversed April's 1.1% gain.
The fall in sales included petrol, non-food items in supermarkets and household goods.
Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, stated that the UK is in the middle of "seven lean years" caused by 2008's economic crash. These figures will more than likely reinforce the Bank of England's case to leave interest rates at 0.5%, with clear indications that the UK's economy is running out of steam.
And with inflation set to rise further this year, it looks like consumer spending will remain under pressure for some time to come.
So what does this mean to our high street?
Independent stores are already struggling to compete with the High Street chains and national superstores. Yet they are the heartbeat of our community, which the Government seems to have finally understood, with their recent appointment of TV retail guru and 'Queen of Shops', Mary Portas, who will be advising them on how they can reverse the decline of independent stores and create more vibrant High Streets.
"I want to listen and find out how all of us can work together to create High Streets that local people need and want, that provide a sense of community and belonging," she explained in a recent interview with The Sun.
So what can we do to help our local traders survive? It's simple - buy from them! Yes, sometimes it is more convenient to shop at an out-of-town superstore, but it is only on a High Street that you get a true sense of community, entrepreneurship and local pride.
Here at thebestof Haverhill, we know all too well how important independent businesses are, which is why we champion local retailers through our Buy Local campaign.
It's simple - by supporting Haverhill businesses, local jobs and our business community are safeguarded and we continue to enjoy a diverse range of shops and services.
Supporting your local businesses takes only a few minutes - simply click on the Buy Local link and let a favourite store or supplier know how much you value them!