Retailers were bemoaning the weather yesterday, as once again Britain ground to a halt in freezing conditions.
As airports closed and trains stopped running, shops were looking emptier than is usual at this time of year.
The lack of customers led many retailers to fear that this year could be a disaster, with no light at the end of the tunnel as VAT is to rise to 20 per cent in the new year.
"It's bad news in the shops," said Maggie Anglepoise of the Organisation of Some Big Retail Chains. "With the financial climate such as it is, a lot of our members fear that this could be the worse peak season on record."
But Ms Anglepoise's opinion is not shared by retail consultant and journalist, Ferdy Pratt: "Oh shut up, please. Every bloody year it's the same old song - 'Oh, where are all the customers? We're all going to go bust.'
"And yet, there they are still banging on the next year. What's the matter with them? Bloody whingeing bastards, the lot of them."