"Respectable" growth figures from the first half of the year show retail is continuing to make a recovery, the head of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said. Announcing rising sales from May and June, BRC director general Helen Dickinson said:
Despite challenging economic conditions continuing, June saw another strong performance from the UK's retailers, with very respectable overall growth across the categories.
At this halfway point in the year we are able to see that sales are well ahead of the previous six-month period, confirming that the retail recovery is continuing.
Warmer temperatures in May and June lifted sales of clothing and footwear to give the high street a much needed boost, the British Retail Consortium said.
Sales rose for the second consecutive month in June, raising hope that a recovering in consumer spending was beginning to fuel the economy.
More than one in five of Britain's high street shops could close by 2018 as customers turn towards the internet, a study has shown.
Around 62,000 shops will fold in the next five years, according to research carried out by the Centre for Retail Research and reported in the Daily Mail.
The independent retail analysis group estimated that around 316,000 workers would lose their jobs as a result and large areas of Britain's high streets would be turned into housing.
Wales and the North West are predicted to see the highest number of closures, with nearly one in three expected to shut, while the South East is expected to see a 13% decrease in the number of shops by 2018.
Online shopping is expected to surge over the next few years, accounting for 22% of retail spending by 2018 compared to 12.7% currently, the study suggested.
We requested your response to Marks & Spencer's fall profits on our Facebook page, asking has the once High Street favourite lost its shine?
Many of the responses suggested the retailer's pricing was deterring customers.
Clive Templar said "items are far too expensive", while Steve Smith urged the shop to "lower your prices".
It seems few of you were surprised that M&S would suffer a significant slump in clothing sales, while seeing food sales rise.
"Foods nice," Vanessa Ashton said, but added that she "can get nicer, cheaper, good fitting clothes from lots of other stores!"
Margaret Fenwick agreed that the firm had lost clothing customers to other shops, blaming "cheaper quality and inferior goods".
Louise Linter said she preferred M&S when it "sold more classic styles".
However, there was still support for the traditional retailer.
Colin Smith said he would definitely continue to shop at a "great British institution" while Simon Jobson said: "I do love the food there."
Mark Prisk, the housing and local government minister, told the Daily Telegraph shop owners must do more if they are to win back customers who have turned to the internet.
The warning comes as the Department of Communities and Local Government today awarded seven towns a share of £1 million in return for successfully breathing new life into their high streets.
Mr Prisk said the Government is doing "all it could" to help shops survive, including reducing business rates and encouraging local councils to be more flexible with parking.
"We will keep providing support where it is needed, but it takes more than funding to make this work," he told the Daily Telegraph.
"As consumers, our behaviour has changed. High streets need to respond to that change if they are to prosper."
More than 2,100 jobs have been saved by Sports Direct International's purchase of 116 stores from fashion retailer Republic.
The Sports World group has also taken over the stock, along with the group's head office in Leeds and its websites and brands SoulCal, Fabric and Crafted.
Britain's retailers have faced yet more gloomy predictions today with up to half of major High Street stores planning to cut staff, according to a new survey.
The grim outlook comes in the wake of a series of famous names going under, like Jessops, Blockbuster and HMV.
ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi reports from Warrington:
Around 50 per cent of retailers will shed jobs in the first quarter of 2013, according to research by the British Retail Consortium.
Speaking to ITV Daybreak, Employment Minister Mark Hoban said that the overall employment figures are good, and that jobs are being created.
He added that the high street is changing and job descriptions will change too.
The British Retail Consortium has reported that more than half of high street stores will be making staff cuts this spring.
ITV Daybreak spoke to Fiona Wilson from the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, she said: "We would expect to see some seasonal changes in the new year".