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Consumers are concerned about spending on unnecessary items amid the economic downturn.

Richard Dodd, spokesperson for the British Retail Consortium, revealed that customers are feeling worried about their personal finances.

He said they are concerned "particularly about jobs because of the wider economy and its impact on them".

"Those who are not currently feeling the pressure personally then of course they [expect] they are going to," the expert continued.

Among the main concerns with British consumers is how they are going to pay off their bills in the future, with planned tax increases also putting people off spending.

These difficulties are also reflected in retailers’ nervousness about their financial futures, he added.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, the unemployment rate was 6.7 per cent for the three months prior to February 2009, up 0.6 over the previous quarter and up 1.5 over the year.

Furthermore, the number of unemployed people increased by 177,000 over the quarter and by 486,000 over the year, to reach 2.1 million.

This meant the unemployment level and rate has not been higher since 1997.

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