This morning’s retail news is about tales of quiet desperation

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Tescos, Morrisons and M&S all delivered poor retail sales results this morning. Sainsbury was not much better yesterday. The message is clear; on the High Street people are not just having a cost of living crisis, they're seriosuly cutting back.

Now, as someone who is often bemused by what people think it necessary to consume I could celebrate this, but I am not because in this there is, I suspect, a cause for real concern.

It will undoubtedly be true that some of what has been cut back is just frippery. I have no concern about that, but it is reported that last summer Morrisons thought that one third of their customers were a pay cheque away from bankruptcy. UK savings data would suggest that was an optimistic estimate on their part. Most households have no financial savings of any consequence in this country. For them there is no cash buffer of savings when things go wrong.

And things are going wrong. Energy costs are indicative of high underlying inflation. And now there is a fear of rent rises, mortgage increases and many other fundamental costs to all households rising way ahead of inflation - some, no doubt, as a result of official policy decisions that are likely this year. And that is before the fear of unemployment - deliberately engendered for many by this government - is factored in.

So these are not just stories of retailers losing a percent or two in their sales growth. These are stories of quiet desperation as families wonder how they can and will survive.

For many they have no answer to that question for one good reason, which is that there is no obvious answer to that question, especially when the safety net of social security is also being pulled away from so many, so fast.

This retail sales data is not just a matter of concern for financial markets. It should be see as a wake up call for all concerned about the lives of people in this country; lives that are becoming increasingly financially unsustainable.

Worry, please. Worry a lot. And demand action.