With early figures showing online sales growth at record levels, the burden is increasing on retailers to find ways to limit or offset ballooning delivery costs, writes the Financial Times.

Ocado prompted criticism on social media after it introduced a £9.99 delivery charge in the week before Christmas, even for customers who pay a monthly fee, while John Lewis this year introduced a £2 charge for its “click and collect” service. The FT says it is now is typically cheaper for retailers to sell products in store than online, despite the high costs of labour and rent. (The Financial Times £)

This could turn out be one of the worst Christmas trading periods for the High Street, with analysts fearing the worst and ready to slash profit forecasts for this year and next. The warm, unseasonal weather, the before and after effects of Black Friday and the Paris terrorist attacks have all combined to hit trade, particularly in Central London. (The Daily Mail)

A string of retailers could face insolvency in the new year with tough trading on the high street in the run-up to Christmas leaving businesses fighting for survival, two influential industry bodies have warned. Widespread discounting and warmer-than-average weather have cranked up the pressure on high street retailers over the festive period. (The Guardian)

Tax officials have launched a crackdown on VAT evasion by overseas online retailers amid claims that Amazon and eBay have been “collaborating” with them to defraud the exchequer of large sums. The Treasury said HM Revenue & Customs was gathering intelligence on this particular scam, adding that it was devoting 25 per cent of its customs and international trade effort to tackling import fraud. (The Financial Times £)

More than half of Phones4u’s former stores remain empty just over a year after the mobile phone retailer went bust. Nearly 270 of the chain’s 554 stores remain empty, with outlets in Yorkshire, Wales and the east of England worst affected. (The Guardian)

An ad for Nesquik hot chocolate featuring a cartoon rabbit has been banned for claiming it gave children a “great start to the day” when in fact it was high in added sugar. Nestlé UK ran an ad on Asda’s own-brand milk labels featuring the character stirring a cup of the drink underneath the strapline “For a great start to the day!” (The Guardian)

In the US, the Mast brothers, who boast they create “the best chocolate in the world” have been accused of melting another brand of chocolate into their bars. A food blogger in America claims to have uncovered evidence that the Masts “defrauded the public” in their early years by falsely claiming to be “bean to bar” chocolate makers. (The Times £)

The sale of Camden Town to global brewing giant AB InBev is “a sign of craft beer’s fizzing into the mainstream”, writes The Guardian. Increased diversity at the taps has also widened the love of good-quality beer beyond real ale aficionados, who frown upon anything not kept in wooden casks. Quality beers are now being produced in kegs, bottles and even cans, helping craft brewers offset the rapid decline of high street pubs. (The Guardian)