The economic downturn was, not surprisingly, reflected in retail sales over the Christmas period. There was a huge contrast in the performance of the two high street bellwethers – John Lewis and M&S. John Lewis saw like-for-like department store performance up 6.2% with Waitrose up 4.1%. This compared with M&S reporting a like-for-like fall of 2.2% resulting in a fifth of its value being wiped of its share price. Tesco reported sales up 3.1%, below City expectations but a solid performance with international sales up over 26% and on-line sales increasing by 24%. Yet overall, BRC sales monitor reported a disappointing like-for-like rise of only 0.3% compared with recent years performance up 2.6% for the period. It is inevitable that retail sales will very much mirror the economy in 2008 with pundits not forecasting a dawn until early 2009. The economy and retail are in for a rough ride in 2008.