Far from basking in the autumn heatwave, UK retailers have been having a torrid time of late. John Lewis reported a near15% drop in profits in the first half of the year, blaming shifts in consumer spending and competitive pricing. Next, the UK’s second-biggest clothing retailer, also warned of troubles, saying that the current quarter will be its toughest this year. And AB Foods, owner of budget fashion chain, Primark, reported weakness in its sales. Shares in the latter two companies dropped this week (John Lewis is owned by its employees).