The stalled recovery in consumer spending has become the biggest threat facing retailers and suppliers, overtaking the impact of soaring commodity prices, a survey at this week’s IGD conference showed.

Of the 450 business leaders who voted, 37% cited the slow pace of consumer spending as the single biggest fear factor, compared with 28% last year. Soaring input costs were cited by 32% as the bigger threat, a fall from 48% last time.

More than 60% of retail and manufacturing leaders expected the tough climate to last until the end of the decade, compared with 6% who believe the economy will pick up next year. Philip Clarke, Tesco CEO, said the crisis meant companies were having to “rethink our approach to retail overall”.

Joanne Denney-Finch, IGD president, said: “This is not just a recession but a fundamental readjustment.” Half of respondents believed 20% to 50% of the food and grocery market will go online, with 13% of business leaders believing it could go as high as 99%.

With the future of the high street under threat, 57% believed the high street faced a period of retrenchment, but was still viable, with 36% feeling it would be reinvigorated with plentiful retail activity, while 7% feared it will retreat with minimal activity.

China was also a key theme, with 32% expecting it to account for high proportion of future growth, and 13% contemplating a Chinese acquisition of their companies.

Despite the gloom, Denney-Finch led a call for retailers and suppliers to cut their reliance on promotions, as an IGD study showed 44% of shoppers found it difficult to compare prices.

“A blizzard of promotions risks information overload, complicating life for shoppers,” she said. “Shoppers are finding it difficult to cut through the in-store noise.”