Retailers in the North East of England are the gloomiest in the country, a study by Skillsmart Retail has revealed.
It found that the region had twice the number of pessimistic small retailers than the national average, and half as many optimistic ones.
Researchers interviewed 1,100 managers and owners of small retail businesses. In the North East, 30% had the most pessimistic outlook - compared with the national average of 13.8%.
Retailers in the South East were found to be the most optimistic.