Greetings cards group Clinton Cards has revealed it had a poor Christmas with like-for-like sales dropping 4.1 per cent in the five weeks to January 4.

Clinton Cards said like-for-like sales also fell 3.9 per cent at its Birthdays brand during the period.

The retailer said the performance showed an improvement on its previous sales trend.

Like-for-likes in the 23 weeks to January 11 fell 6.2 per cent at Clinton and 4.1 per cent at Birthdays, representing a 5.7 per cent slump at the group during the period.

Clinton Cards has paid back a£12m loan repayment and the fifth and final instalment of£12m will be repaid in December, it said.

Chairman Don Lewin said: "Christmas spend did start later than expected but in a difficult and unpredictable market both brands held up relatively well with only a small amount of planned promotional activity".

Since the start of the new financial year in August the retailer opened 15 stores and disposed of 26 loss-making stores to leave 1,039 stores trading. This comprises 695 Clinton stores and 344 Birthdays stores.