But coaxing customers in with discounts may hit profitability
The latest CBI survey supports fears that retailers may have over-egged the pudding with pre-Christmas Sales this year. The CBI Distributive Trades Survey for December found that volumes surpassed the same period last year, with 53 per cent of companies saying volumes were up this year. However, sales were rated as average for the time of year, with 20 per cent of companies polled saying their sales were poor.

Sectors showing the most growth were food stores, chemists, booksellers, stationers and furniture and carpet shops. Clothing stores reported the smallest increase, with footwear retailers showing a decline in sales compared with a year ago. CBI chief economic adviser Ian McCafferty said: 'Many retailers were concerned by the slow start to Christmas, but in the event they encouraged cautious consumers into the shops. However, if widespread discounting drove December's increase in sales volumes, then value and profitability will have remained subdued.'