Consumer electronics retailer Dixons warned on Wednesday that its sales over the Christmas period were below expectations, with consoles and computer games performing poorly.
The high street chain, whose performance is generally seen as a solid guide to the performance of the UK retail sector, said that like for like sales for the last eight weeks of 2002 were up just 1 percent on a year ago, compared to a 5 percent rise for the previous six months.
"In November, the latest period for which audited market share data is available, our market share was still growing. Sales in December were below expectations, however, principally accounted for by weaker sales of games consoles, audio products and extended warranties," the company said in a financial statement to the London stock market.
City investors reacted badly to this news, and shares in Dixons dropped by around 20 percent in morning trading in London.
Dixons did suggest, though, that there could be some recovery in its fortunes in early 2003, revealing that: "The January sale has started well, with strong sales of computers, widescreen televisions and DVD players."