The high street only recorded a slight uplift in trading for the first half of January according to the CBI's Distributive Trades Survey.
Some 39% of respondents to the survey said year-on-year sales volumes rose in the first half of January, while 34% said they were down, resulting in a 4% balance - the lowest rate of growth since November 2006.
However the CBI said the results were better than what retailers had forecast, -5%.
10% of respondents said that they expected sales to improve in February, however they said business would be below average growth for second half of 2007.
John Longworth, chairman of the CBI's Distributive Trades Panel said: "This January sales were a little flat this year, and were weaker than the lacklustre lead-up to Christmas."