Retailers have succeeded in drawing Christmas shoppers to the High Street, but only by cutting prices, according to a survey by the CBI.
The drive to boost sales may be hitting profit margins
Store-owner confidence is at its highest level since January, with as many retailers saying sales were up as those saying they were down.
It is the first time since February that monthly sales have not fallen year-on-year.
The CBI said that retailers were having to resort to "aggressive" discounting.
Consumers "play chicken"
But the figures will come as a relief to the industry after November's CBI distributive trade survey, which said that High Street confidence was at its lowest level for 22 years.
"Retailers have been pinning their hopes on Christmas bringing some festive cheer after months of depressed trading and these figures are better than expected," said John Longworth, executive director of Asda and chairman of the survey's panel.
"They reflect the efforts made to entice customers back into shops and stores, but the question is 'at what cost' as prices are so heavily discounted."
The CBI said that Christmas was coming later and later each year as shoppers "play chicken" with the High Street and wait for stores to introduce last-minute discounts.