Weeks after the head of Sainsbury said low growth in pay levels across the UK could weigh on the sector, Debenhams said it was not counting on the pace of any consumer recovery picking up significantly in 2014.
Britain's second-largest department store retailer by sales, Debenhams reported a 2.7% fall in full-year profit.
Chief executive Michael Sharp appeared to echo the concerns about consumer sentiment expressed by Sainsbury boss Justin King. Earlier this month he said there was unlikely to be a sea-change in consumer spending while inflation continued to outpace wage rises .
"There is a clear disconnect between some of the more positive economic data and how customers are actually feeling in reality," said Mr Sharp, adding a consumer recovery was "probably further away than people might have previously liked to expect."
Sharp said he regularly met shoppers: "They talk about the pressure of energy costs, food inflation, the cost of car parking and they are all very clear that all those component parts are running ahead of wage inflation."
With 236 stores including 11 in Scotland, Debenhams made a pretax profit of £154 million in the year to 31 August, in line with analyst expectations but down from £158.3m in the 2011-12 year. Analyst forecasts had been cut after a profit warning in March that was blamed on January snow. The firm then endured wet spring weather before getting a boost to sales from a summer heat wave.
Now a mild autumn looks set to cause more problems.
"The hot weather has sent Debenhams' autumn/winter range into a tailspin. It's nearing the end of October and I have just seen a promotion offering 25% off a coat," said James McGregor, director of retail consultants, Retail Remedy.
Full-year sales, announced last month, rose 2.5% to £2.78 billion, with sales at stores open over a year up 2% and gross margin flat.
Debenhams, behind employee-owned John Lewis by annual sales, is modernising stores including a £25m refurbishment of its flagship on London's Oxford Street that it hopes will attract new brands and partners. It is also investing in new product and online and expanding its brand internationally as it seeks to counter subdued consumer confidence with market share gains.
Its share in clothing, footwear and accessories rose by 30 basis points in the 12 weeks to 4 August, according to Kantar Worldpanel.
Though Sharp expects the market to remain competitive in the run-up to Christmas he indicated that Debenhams was not being hurt by the efforts of Marks & Spencer, Britain's biggest clothing retailer, to revive its womenswear business.
"We continue to grow market share in womenswear and I think that's all the evidence you need to demonstrate that we're clearly getting lots of things right for our customer," he said.
Analysts at N+1 Singer cut their 2013-14 pretax profit forecast by 4% to £155m, after pencilling in cost growth of 4.5%. They highlighted costs of £7.5m for a new head office and a worsening of the costs to generate online sales.