THE flurry of Christmas trading updates shows no sign of abating next week, with festive figures from Currys and PC World parent Dixons Retail and Argos owner Home Retail Group.

The collapse of consumer electronics chain Comet will have provided a boost to PC World and Dixons Retail over Christmas, while the group is also set to have reaped the rewards of soaring demand for tablet computers.

City experts predict the group's update on Thursday will reveal like-for-like sales in the UK and Ireland up by between 4% and 6% in the 12 weeks to January 5 after a surge over the crucial festive trading period.

While Dixons is expected to have benefited from the demise of Comet, rival Argos is set to reveal a more subdued performance.

Analysts predict Thursday's update will show like-for-like sales growth eased back to 0.2% in the third quarter, behind its better-than-expected first half when like-for-like sales were up 0.6% in the six months to September 1.

Sales growth is expected to have slowed over Christmas for retail chain Halfords following a second quarter surge in demand for cycles amid the "Wiggins effect".

Analysts at Barclays Capital predict Halfords, which reports tomorrow, will reveal retail sales growth of 0.5% over Christmas – a sharp slowdown on the 4.6% hike seen in the second quarter.

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon is set to report slowing sales over its Christmas quarter as the group nurses an Olympic hangover.

Experts at Deutsche Bank predict a "muted" 1.5% rise in like-for-like sales in the pub chain's second quarter.

Wetherspoons, which has more than 860 pubs, has extended it traditional January sale – including £2.99 meal deals – to the end of the month.

Geof Collyer, managing director of the leisure team at Deutsche Bank Equity Research, said the meal deals would put more pressure on margins.

Wetherspoons already warned in November that margins would be squeezed by increased taxes, utility bills and higher wages, as well as rises in bar and food supplier costs.

A continued squeeze on incomes looks set to play into the hands of Primark owner Associated British Foods on Thursday.

Experts from JP Morgan predict like-for-like sales at the budget fashion chain will be up 2% in its first quarter trading update on Thursday, despite tough comparisons after a buoyant Christmas last year.



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