This year could be “the worst Christmas for 25 years” for retailers, a leading analyst has warned.

“We now believe that Christmas in 2006 will be worse than 2005 and could be difficult as, or even softer than 2004, which was the worst Christmas for 23 years,” said Richard Ratner, a retail analyst at Seymour Pierce.

“If the latter is the case, it will make it the worst for 25 years,” he added.