Fears about a slowdown in consumer spending are threatening the sale of a string of British businesses as buyers take fright at the recent shock profit warning from DFS.

The sofa giant triggered a retail share sell-off last week after announcing that its profits would be £10m lower than expected. DFS blamed uncertainty around the election for lower footfall to its stores, which followed official figures that showed rising prices were squeezing household incomes.

Sources said cautiousness was prompting bidders to raise questions about the price…