Wal-Mart, the worlds biggest retailer warned that a difficult Christmas trading period meant its fourth quarter profits would be at the lower end of its predicted guidance.

The retailer said that its December like-for-like sales grew by just 2.2%, its smallest rise in December for five years. Wal-Mart said that customers were playing a waiting game in order to pick up bargains.

Total sales for the five weeks to December 30 were up 6.3% to £23.2bn.