FIGURES show 2019 was the worst 12 months on record for UK retailers, and now John Lewis is warning staff that a poor festive period means bonuses are in doubt. What now for the embattled high street?

What do the figures show?

Overall annual sales have dipped for the first time since records began in 1995, according to data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC). Total sales fell 0.1%, while sales in December, in what should be a busy pre-Christmas spell, were down 0.9%.

The BRC figures do not include Amazon, which accounts for around 20% of online sales, but the BRC say they still give an "accurate picture" of the state of retail.

Brexit’s to blame?

Political uncertainty caused by Brexit and the staging of the general election in December have been blamed for the dip, but analysts point out that the high street is deep in the process of forced adaptation to changing consumer behaviour.

It’s unrecognisable?

Becoming so. In the last decade, figures from the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce show that 300,000 high street jobs were lost and big brands that were once giants have gone.

Bad start to 2020?

This week alone, Mothercare and Links of London will disappear from UK high streets for good as 94 stores close their doors, resulting in 3,150 job losses, after both companies collapsed into administration before Christmas.

And Debenhams has announced 19 store closures this month, resulting in 600 job losses.

John Lewis?

The retail group has warned that annual partnership profits are likely to be "substantially down" and the board will meet in February to decide if the bonus ought to be paid. It has been handed to staff since 1953 and in the best years, has been the equivalent of a few months’ pay, but last year, was the lowest ever.

Marks and Spencer?

It has also reported a "disappointing" festive period. Food revenue grew 1.5% to £1.7 billion in the last quarter, but sales in clothing and home fell 2.7% to £1.1 billion.

In October, M&S admitted that a turnaround in its clothing and home business was already 18 months behind schedule.

Consumer confidence?

Barclaycard research suggests that after the general election, four in 10 consumers said they were feeling “upbeat" - up 10% points on November and the highest level throughout 2019, but the optimism "hasn't yet translated into high street sales”.

It’s not all doom and gloom?

The leisure industry is faring well. Cinema sales rose by 19%, thanks to Star Wars and Frozen 2, while spending in pubs and on takeaways was up 11.7% and 12.5% respectively over the festive period, according to Barclaycard.

And some stores have figured it out?

Joules is bucking the trend, saying in December that its performance for the previous six months had been "robust", confirming it was opening four new high street stores and crediting a "disciplined" promotional approach and strong online growth for its success.