The boss of Poundland, Europe's biggest single price retailer, said it was too early to call a recovery in the UK retail sector even though official data for January showed a rise in sales and business surveys have indicated an upturn in consumer sentiment.
I still expect 2012 to be very difficult for consumers, very difficult for retailers. I think there will be some more casualties on the retail side, Jim McCarthy, chief executive of the 389 store firm told Reuters in an interview.
2013 might possibly be a bit better, he said.
According to McCarthy for the consumer it still feels like Britain is in recession, even if technically it is not.
There's evidence that people are shopping from shopping lists and not straying into discretionary spending in the way they used to and that spending is focusing on essentials. All of which are the behaviours of a consumer under pressure.
People are still very uncertain about their prospects.
The CEO said that while some inflationary pressures were unwinding, fuel prices remained high and were still impacting shopping patterns.
Many Britons have been cutting back spending over the past year as price increases outpaced wage rises and higher unemployment weighed on confidence. The lack of consumption has been one of the main drags on economic growth.
However, last week official data showed British retail sales rose unexpectedly in January. That data, a string of strong business surveys and some stabilisation in the labour market have raised hopes of recovery in 2012.
McCarthy said Warburg Pincus
Poundland's a very good business in poor times, it's an excellent business in good times, he said.
The firm sells a range of over 3,000 products, including 1,000 branded goods from firms such as Cadbury, Procter & Gamble, Colgate and Nestle, all at a single price point of 1 pound.
McCarthy said he expected a boost to trade this summer from celebrations to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the Euro 2012 soccer championships and the London Olympics.
There will be significant areas of additional spend but I suspect that spend pre and post (events) in other normal areas will be under pressure to fund spending for those events, he said.
(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Matt Scuffham)