Most retailers expect trading this Christmas to be at least as good as last and say shoppers have brought forward purchases to avoid the January VAT rise.

29% of store groups anticipate that turnover will be the same as last year and 35% expect it to be better, the British Retail Consortium’s Christmas Trading Snapshot Survey revealed. 36% fear trading will be worse than last year.

41% of retailers are running more promotions and discounts than last year, the poll showed. 71% think the looming increase in VAT to 20% has prompted shoppers to bring forward purchases and 80% believe the rise will have a negative impact on January sales.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson was reassured that most retailers think this Christmas will be no worse than last but cautioned: “Considering inflation is now at 3.2%, growth of anything less than that would be a real-terms fall.”

He warned: “Ultimately December could be the ninth month in a row of weak year-on-year growth.”