Retail bellwether Next will kick off the sector's Christmas trading updates this week after a crucial festive season for the UK's high street.
After a difficult year for the sector, many retailers have pinned their hopes on Christmas and the Boxing Day sales rush to offer a much-needed boost.
Next will give its closely-watched view on how the season went when it fires the starting gun on the round of Christmas sales updates on January 3.
The group's figures will be keenly awaited given its prominence on the high street and also its well-established online offering. Any comments on its Boxing Day performance, in particular, will be of interest as Next is one of the few retailers that does not discount in the run up to Christmas and therefore attracts mammoth queues each year in the sales.
Rival John Lewis has already laid down the gauntlet with news that it notched up record online sales ahead of the group-wide clearance launch on Boxing Day, with sales on its website up 70% in the first hour.
But there have been warnings that for many shops, the festive sales flurry may have come too late.
Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium director general, said Christmas "hasn't been a boom time for UK retailers" this year.
The Christmas sales reporting season begins in earnest the week after, with Debenhams, Mothercare, H Samuel parent Signet and Marks -amp; Spencer among those posting figures.