British households spent around £80 less than expected on Christmas gifts and in the Boxing Day sales, according to estimates by Professor Joshua Bamfield, a director at the Centre for Retail Research.
According to the retail think-tank shoppers spent an estimated £70 billion in shops and online during the festive season, £2 billion short of the Centre's predictions.
Despite £3 billion being spent on Boxing Day alone and sales being slightly up when compared to last Christmas, the total spent by the British public has fallen short of expectations.
The economic downturn is being blamed for many retailers failing to meet their sales targets over Christmas.
"We were expecting that [sales over] Christmas this year would be up by 1.3 per cent compared to last year based on our research. In fact what we didn’t foresee was that there would be this collapse in confidence which is partly caused Government economic pronouncements," commented Professor Bamfield.
“Our feeling was that the economy was improving. We thought that in October and November people were feeling that we’ve come out of recession and that things are OK. They thought ‘We can give ourselves a bit of a treat but we don’t want to be stupid’.
"In the end Christmas sales are probably up by between 0.5 per cent and 0.7 per cent compared to last year."
Though internet sales were up by a fifth on Boxing Day compared to 2011, and those hitting the high street post-Christmas sales was also up by a fifth Professor Bamfield said this would be unlikely to act as a "counterbalance" to the poor trading conditions many retailers have experienced in the months leading up to Christmas.
Small market towns were said to have been the hardest hit this year with Professor Bamfield explaining: "Beautifully cared-for large shopping centres and retail parks have done extraordinarily well whilst high streets in the centre of towns where you walk about in the rain have not done so well.
"I’d have thought some market towns were down by two or three per cent over Christmas."