British retail sales plummeted in December, marking the biggest decline in nearly three years and raising the risk that the UK economy slipped into a technical recession at the end of last year (Financial Times £). An unexpected downturn in retail sales in December has increased the likelihood that Britain may have slipped into a recession at the end of last year (The Times £). Retail sales suffered their biggest drop for nearly two years in the run-up to Christmas, leaving Britain on the brink of recession in a new blow for Rishi Sunak (Telegraph £). UK retail sales shrank by their largest amount in nearly three years last month, reigniting fears Britain could fall into recession this year (Daily Mail).

Retailers in Great Britain suffered a dire Christmas as cash-strapped consumers cut back on shopping in December, fuelling the biggest fall in monthly sales since shops were forced to close during the coronavirus pandemic in 2021 (The Guardian). There has been a shock fall in retail sales in the key December shopping period, sharpening the decline seen in recent months, official figures show (Sky News).

The boss of Sainsbury’s has spoken out for the first time about the epidemic of retail crime sweeping Britain. Simon Roberts, chief executive of the UK’s second-biggest supermarket chain, has supports the demand for a change in the law to make abuse or violence towards retail staff a specific offence. (Daily Mail)

Roberts seems a little obsessed with Aldi. He has been an evangelist on this point since he took the top job in 2020. He has put his foot on the gas this month with a big ‘price-match’ promotion. More than 550 items are being benchmarked against German discount retailer Aldi, including more than 60 of its baby products. (Daily Mail)

Sainsbury’s is spending £220m keeping prices low for customers in its current financial year. On 7 February, chief executive Simon Roberts will reveal to the City the next phase of his ‘Food First’ blueprint. (Daily Mail)

John Lewis has warned staff they face smaller pay rises under proposals to “reset” salary policies and give the business great financial breathing room during its turnaround (Telegraph £). John Lewis is considering smaller pay rises for staff amid a turnaround plan (Daily Mail).

Sausages with less pork, chicken enchiladas with reduced meat content and shrunken pats of Lurpak butter are among the downsized and downgraded groceries being offered to consumers as retailers and manufacturers cut costs, a consumer group has claimed (The Guardian). Supermarkets and manufacturers must be more open about so-called “shrinkflation” and “skimpflation”, consumer group Which? Says (BBC). Mouthwash, teabags and sausages have all fallen victim to “shrinkflation” as manufacturers and retailers cut costs, a watchdog has found (Sky News).

Tesco customers were left without their grocery deliveries on Sunday morning after a technical fault prevented many orders going out. Dozens took to social media to express their frustration, branding the experience and lack of communication a “shambles”. (BBC)

An increased appetite for takeaways in the UK and the Republic of Ireland has prompted Deliveroo to upgrade its annual profit forecast. (The Times £)

Europe’s food delivery apps are beginning to serve up a profit. For the first time, all three of the European delivery companies are expected to report positive adjusted ebitda in 2023. This metric strips out the impact of share-based compensation, which can be considerable, but it provides a useful indication of how the underlying business is performing. (Financial Times £)

The UK’s fruit and flower growers face an “existential threat” from new post-Brexit border checks that could damage business and affect next year’s crops, the country’s biggest farming body has said. (The Guardian)

Parliamentarians are being urged to back a proposal that could help further reduce the cost of baby formula. Iceland supermarket boss Richard Walker is calling for retailers to be given more freedom to help make first infant formula milk more affordable for families. (Sky News)

The Issa brothers are still attempting to disentangle Asda’s IT systems from former owner Walmart, three years after buying the supermarket giant for £6.8bn. (Telegraph £)

Wincanton has agreed to a £566.9m takeover from a powerhouse French shipping operator. (The Times £)

It’s crunch time for Walkers after a ruling that the company must pay VAT on its mini poppadoms because they are really more like crisps. (The Guardian)

Cognac houses put their faith in reputation as they navigate headwinds. A sharp drop in exports to the US, cognac’s biggest market, has dented sales for producers, while an anti-dumping investigation launched by China this month amid a wider trade dispute with the EU has created further risks for the industry. (Financial Times £)

Attacks on shipping in the Red Sea threaten to create a ‘‘chaotic” period for Europe’s manufacturers and retailers as supply chains are disrupted, logistics experts have warned. (Financial Times £)