Britain’s looming recession will not keep shoppers off the streets entirely this Christmas but consumers will be maintaining a careful watch on their finances. Growth in spending this year will run at nearly its lowest rate in two decades.

Spending in the last three months of 2008 is set to grow by 2 per cent as consumers spend £82.3bn – an average of £1,363 per Briton – on Christmas foods and gifts, according to research released today by Verdict, the retail consultancy.

But the forecast growth will be driven by spending in supermarkets rather than general stores, with grocery spending – helped along by food price inflation – set to rise 5.7%, or £1.6bn, over the three months.

Retailers of televisions, clothes, homeware, furniture and other non-food goods are going to have a far more torrid time than their big supermarket rivals, with expenditure in non-food set to fall 0.2%, or £100m.

Financial Times, Daily Telegraph