Retailers struggled over Christmas as embattled shoppers cut back on spending

The hopes that retailers would have the first good Christmas in three years were dashed on Friday as new figures showed the sector sold far less than expected as shoppers tightened their belts. One small business owner said that she only had “a couple of sales” from regular customers in the vital month of December as shoppers struggled with the cost-of-living crisis. Retail sales volumes were estimated to have dropped by 1% in December, the second month of decline, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.