In these apocalyptic times, there's a lot to take in. Yet the consensus seems to be that it's not as bad as it had been painted, with forecasts from analysts for retailers (even non-food ones) being revised upwards since the start of the year. This clearly reflects both some skilful expectation management over the past few months, and some success in the revision of offers, with evidence that a change in promotions had worked, to some extent at least, for both Marks & Spencer and Waitrose - two of the leading multiples most affected by the recession.

Of course, there has been no shortage of bad news over the festive period, with Whittard in administration, sales at M&S, Thorntons and Majestic declining, not to mention the last painful death throes of Woolworths. And the closure of 25 M&S Simply Foods stores looks like another blow to its reputation in food. I'm not so sure. With the growth curve of Simply Food these past two years appearing to mirror house prices and bank profits, the closure of less than 10% of the standalone estate looks like a very minor retreat, while the loss of 1,200 jobs - or 1.7% of the workforce - has to be set against the loss of 27,000 jobs at Woolies. M&S may be hurting, but there's clearly plenty of life in the old bird, and Sir Stuart kicked off the New Year with a continuation of his bitchfest with Waitrose from last year. "Waitrose talk about £34m sales in a day," he said, referencing the Bracknell-based supermarket's quoted figures for 23 December. "We are about the same size business as they are and we took £50m in a day."

This date seems to have been a sort of red letter day for grocers, with a number of multiples reporting record sales, aided by the fact the 23rd was a Sunday last year. Most important, though, were the two extra days in the run-up to Christmas. This phasing made it difficult to predict sales. But though Christmas didn't come early; it came in the end.