In the first major analysis of the retail sector since the change in economic policy last October, Manchester Business School and Cambridge Econometrics are predicting a strong recovery over the next decade. They expect lower interest rates to have a benign effect on the housing market and to boost house prices. This, it is believed, will in turn lead to a swift restoration of consumer confidence by the second half of 1993. Predictions are that retailers will win a larger share of disposable income. Consumers will be enticed to part with their money by a highly competitive market that has been born out of necessity in the recession. Retail sales are forecast to grow at an encouraging average of 2.3% a year between 1992 and 1995, against total consumer spending growth of 2.1% a year. Thereafter, it is predicted, retail sales should grow by 2.7% a year between 1995 and 2000 and by 2.4% a year between 2000 and 2005. This analysis will be heartening reading for the shell-shocked retail business. If it is not quite back to the boom times of the 1980s, when retail sales were growing at 3.4% a year, it is a darn sight better than the meagre 0.4% or less estimated for 1992.
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