Millennium Bug fears led to consumers stocking up on batteries and candles. But the Doomsday scenario of computer failures, blackouts and food shortages failed to materialise as the major multiples said their Y2K preparations had been successful.

Only retailers with HSBC cashpoint machines have experienced problems so far, according to reports. Up to 10,000 independents may have been hit by a bug in the machines during the four day break between Christmas and the New Year, said the bank. HSBC said the problem occurred when the “look ahead facility” in the new swipe card machines, attempted to compare December 28 1999 with January 1 2000.

However HSBC confirmed the problem has been resolved without any complaints. But the government backed Y2K taskforce, Action 2000, has warned there is still time for problems to surface. The multiples too have admitted they may not be in the clear yet.

Tesco said: “Over the last three years we have checked 100,000 bits of equipment and have had to replace 4,000 computer parts and upgrade 9,000. There may still be hiccups but there could have been major problems if the work hadn’t been done” Sainsbury spent £54m and Tesco had a budget of £35m.

Safeway and Asda also spent millions but they all reject claims the huge investment was unnecessary.