Retail sales were saved in December by a growth in online shopping, according to results posted by the British Retail Consortium.
Sales were up 1.5 per cent compared with the previous year, but would have fallen were it not for a 17.8 per cent rise in online sales.
Here's the BBC report:
"Since the beginning of 2011 we're really not going anywhere," said new BRC director general Helen Dickinson.
She added that there was little sign that things would improve in 2013.
The BRC bases its retail sales monitor on responses from its members.
"Many retailers have invested a lot in making their websites easier to use across devices and also increasing confidence in their online security... the surging popularity of tablets and smartphones giving even better access is a major factor," Helen Dickinson said.
"For the more established retailers, it seems that much of the growth is now coming from online orders, while shop sales are stagnant at best."
Online only account for 10 per cent of overall sales, so are not expected to prop up the faltering industry for long.