Spending this Christmas could fall for the first time in twenty years according to retail research house Verdict.

It predicts that losses in the non-food sector and a slow down in food inflation will mean consumers spend around £500m less in the important final quarter of the year.

This will be a decline of 0.7% year-on-year primarily driven by a £1bn decline in housing related sectors.

The grocery sector is still expected to see growth, despite slowing food inflation, up 2.3% to £723m.

Verdict lead analyst Maureen Hinton said: “Though women are much more nervous about spending than men – mainly because they usually have greater control and visibility of the family budget – we believe they will cut back less on principle Christmas expenditure than on peripheral spending such as restaurants, entertainment and big ticket items.”

She added: “Temporary recession fatigue will set in over Christmas and though 41% of women intend to spend less overall they will want to ensure they and their families look and feel good, eat well and have a good time.”

Despite the post strike shoppers are still expected to spend £6.8bn online this Christmas, an increase of £837m.