Fears of Christmas sales woe on the High Street appeared to be confirmed yesterday by the first batch of retail trading statements.
Next, DSG and Majestic Wine all saw setbacks amid gloomy predictions for the shop sector in the coming months as consumers cut their spending following higher mortgage and interest payments and rising power and food prices.
Currys owner DSG International warned it would miss profit hopes.
DSG, which also operates Dixons.co.uk, said disappointing trading in the UK, Italy and Spain would leave annual profits up to £50 million below expectations.
It reported lower demand for laptops, while margins were impacted by the need for promotional activity to drive sales of flat panel televisions and other electrical items.
Fashion chain Next revealed worsening conditions on the high street but said it was still set for forecast-beating profits.
The company said sales from its Directory catalogue business had offset a weaker performance from its high street stores.
Like-for-like sales across 309 stores unaffected by new openings fell 3.2 per cent in the five months to December 24 as the firm maintained its policy of not slashing prices in the run-up to Christmas.
Wine warehouse chain Majestic said sales had lost their fizz despite a festive boost in December.
A 4.1 per cent increase in like-for-like sales in the five weeks to December 31 followed a "disappointing" November for the group, chief executive Tim How said.
Despite champagne and sparkling wines selling well, like-for-like sales in the nine weeks to the end of 2007 were just 1.2 per cent ahead - slower than the 2.2 per cent seen in October.
And there were further grim predictions as shares across the sector tumbled.
DSG finance director Kevin Byrne said: "A reduction of interest rates would help and would send the right message, and that's what a lot of people are expecting."
Next finance director David Keens said: "There's no point us trying to kid ourselves that we are going to have anything other than a difficult year."
Analysts picked out Marks & Spencer as a likely safe haven.
Panmure Gordon analyst Philip Dorgan said: "We believe that M&S's defensive characteristics will come to the fore in what is likely to be a tough year for the consumer.
"Half its sales are in food, its property backing remains strong and its product offer is now much more sensibly priced."
M&S is due to update on its Christmas performance next Wednesday.