Customers enjoyed better bargains last Christmas than the previous year despite less discounting by shops, official figures revealed.
The British Retail Consortium said overall prices were 0.64 per cent cheaper in December than the same month 2004 - even though stores managed to minimise promotions by keeping stock levels lower.
While retailers cut the price of non-food items such as toys, electrical equipment and DIY-based products, the reductions were not as sharp as the previous year.
The BRC said this was probably explained by the fact that prices for the whole of 2005 were lower than during 2004.
The figures came as the Touchwood shopping centre reported a record year for visitors, with more than 17 million people visiting the site in Solihull.
Kevin Hawkins, director general at the BRC, said: "Shop prices in December remained lower than in December 2004, despite less pre-Christmas discounting.
"While this means consumers probably saved on their Christmas shopping, prices throughout 2005 as a whole were also lower than in the last two years."
It came just a day after the BRC revealed retailers enjoyed their best Christmas season in four years, helped by heavy trade in the week before Christmas and a bright first two days of the sales season.
Like-for-like sales showed a 2.6 per cent improvement on the lacklustre performance of a year earlier, defying expectations of a torrid festive season for retailers.
Touchwood benefited from the retail upturn with 2.1 million visitors in December, while there was a 20 per cent increase in footfall on the first day of trading in January.
Yesterday's pricing figures showed that while food costs were 0.59 per cent higher in December than the same month last year, they were lower than during November due to promotions on party foods and discounting on alcoholic drinks, particularly beer.
Non-food prices showed a year-on-year decline for the seventh consecutive month - falling 1.41 per cent.
Christmas promotions on toiletries, toys, electrical equipment, CDs and DVDs were a factor, while discounts of up to 75 per cent on clothing also contributed.