Commentators were inclined to look on the bright side however. Barclays Business Banking national retail director Paul Clarke said: 'Whilst Christmas and New Year sales were slightly disappointing, they were not as bad as suggested by some commentators. We have seen year-on-year growth in most sub-sectors. However, big-ticket items have been the most vulnerable to the more cautious consumer.'
Seymour Pierce analyst Rhys Williams agreed that the ONS figures showed a decent performance over the past thee months. However, he noted that weekend demand has fallen, dragging down with it firmer weekday volumes in recent months.