British fashion and homeware retailer Laura Ashley added to the gloom on the high street by reporting a decline in sales in its stores in recent weeks, but said that online business was booming.
The firm closed five stores this year, on top of the fourteen it closed last year, and said that overall UK retail sales dropped by 1.7 per cent in the 19 weeks to December.
Online sales grew by nine per cent, however, which helped contribute to growth for the year to date of 2.5 per cent.
The company pointed to enhancements to its website to explain the rise.
Sales at shops open over a year increased by 1.4 per cent in the same nineteen-week period.
In September the firm announced profits were up 28 per cent on a year-on-year basis for the previous six months, although sales for the period were flat.