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Bad news from Dixons. And more to come

The electrical retailer reported a 7% fall in sales. Expectations are so low that this news didn’t move the share price

It says a lot about the state of the high street – and electrical retailer Dixons in particular – that a 7% slump in pan-European like-for-like sales over three months (and a 10% decline in the UK) is not regarded as the sort of disaster that sends shares into freefall. Instead, the trading update was regarded as no worse than expected and the retailer said it was on track to meet full-year profit expectations of around £90m. There was thus no change in Dixons’ 11.5p price – down from 140p four years ago – which values it at just £400m (tiny numbers for a business with an £8bn turnover).

Chief executive John Browett has achieved a lot with the bad hand he was dealt. The shops are unarguably better than they once were. They are less blokeish and have far better trained staff. But selling tellies on the high street is not a good place to be. The supermarkets and online rivals remain a threat. There are few must-have new products coming down the pike.

Hard-up shoppers are shunning big-ticket items and some retail executives reckon this Christmas will be the worst at the tills for decades. Dixons, meanwhile, has to generate enough cash to repay a £160m bond next year. If the high street takes another lurch down, that could mean the sale of its Scandinavian stores – which are the only ones in the group performing well. © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds