Following pessimistic predictions by national consumer groups, the local branch of Italian merchants association Confcomercio Roma confirms that the summer discount season for clothes and accessories is off to a weak first half. Confcommercio says sales in the first three weeks are down 15 per cent compared to 2007. Spokesman for the organisation, Cesare Pambianchi, blamed rising prices and the diminished purchasing power fixed income households.

Early figures by Confcommercio estimated that Italian family