Except for Tesco that is, and Sanity goes to the wall
This week last year, both Marks & Spencer and Matalan posted dismal Christmas trading figures. Then M&S chief executive Roger Holmes blamed the retailer's offer, especially knitwear, suiting and coats. As a result, M&S head of clothing David Norman fell on his sword. Matalan chief executive John King blamed discounting for his poor Christmas results. M&S has drafted in a new boss, but the situation is the same, if not worse - the retailer issued a profits warning last week. In contrast, Matalan seems to have achieved a turnaround over the past twelve months.

A year ago, Tesco's sales rose 15.4 per cent in the seven weeks to January 3. This year, the UK's leading retailer has done only slightly worse, with total sales for the seven weeks to January 8 rising by 12.1 per cent.

Home entertainment retailer Sanity turned the lights off across 31 of its 106 stores, as administrator BDO Stoy Hayward continued winding the chain down. Prospects did not look good for the remainder of the stores, which was described at the time by one rival as 'flogging a dead horse'. The last 31 stores closed at the beginning of April, with no serious buyers in the offing.