However, there are signs that the picture is finally looking up for businesses in the sector. The latest data in the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI’s) Distributive Trends survey found that retailers reported a broadly unchanged picture in the year to November.

This might not sound overly positive, but it comes after six consecutive months of declining annual sales. Retailers also reported their strongest expectations in the last seven months, with many anticipating that business conditions will remain stable over the next three months.

CBI deputy chief economist Anna Leach commented: “Retailers are entering into the festive season with a bit of hope that sales will head up, with the strongest expectations in half a year. Actual sales have also stabilised and have nudged above average for the time of year.”

The CBI data showed that grocers had made the greatest contribution to the positive figures for the retail sector. Although online sales have been steadily growing this year, they slowed down in November and that’s expected to continue into January.

There was further good news for the UK’s shops as we moved into Black Friday, with Barclaycard revealing that stores had an “outstanding” Black Friday compared to last year, the Guardian reported.

According to the financial services firm, which processes £1 in every £3 spent in the UK, sales for retailers were up by 16.5 per cent over Black Friday last year, with the volume of sales also up by 7.2 per cent.

Cyber Monday, which this year fell on 2 December, was also off to a strong start, the bank noted.

And it’s not only online where consumers are spending their money. Springboard, a retail data company, revealed that footfall in physical stores around the UK was up by 3.3 per cent this Black Friday compared to 2018.

It’s been nearly a decade since Amazon introduced the idea of Black Friday to the UK, encouraging shoppers to bag bargains ahead of the busy festive season.

Our shopping habits are also changing when it comes to the period after Christmas too, Springboard’s data has found. Boxing Day was always seen as the big day for retail sales, but the organisation is expecting to see higher footfall on 27, 28 and 29 December this year than on 26 December.

It suggested that “many consumers now initially search for bargains online before venturing to the stores themselves”.

Retailers need to explore what they can do to attract consumers into their stores, not only during the Christmas period, but at other times of the year too. Making your shop look appealing both outside and in is one of the first things you should do to ensure people want to browse what you have to offer.

One option is to use specialist anodising to give your shopfront a face lift. Using aluminium anodising ticks a number of boxes. For a start, it will give your shop front an even and polished finish, while being incredibly resistant to the weather.

Aluminium is also a good choice in terms of material because it’s sustainable and can be recycled simply by being melted.