Retailers in the UK retailers face sluggish consumer demand and have had little to cheer this festive season as sales growth weakened for the first two weeks of December 2012.

According to the Confederation of British Industry’s Distributive Trades Survey net 19% retailers reported an increase in sales volumes for the period, which though positive remains considerably lower than the figures of 30% and 33% over the last two months.

At lower end the retailers expected a 25% increase but the slackening demand has dampened expectations through January.

Commenting on the figures CBI head of economic analysis Anna Leach said that the survey hadn’t bought in any of the expected cheer for retailers.

"Clearly, weak spending power and uncertainty over the economic outlook are likely to remain key risks to the retail sector in 2013," said Leach.

Data published by the British Retail Consortium also showed weakening consumer demand as shopper numbers declined 2.6% year-on-year the first two weeks of the month.

British Retail Consortium director general Helen Dickinson said, "At first glance the year-on-year fall in shopper numbers doesn’t look great but there are several factors at play."

Springboard research director Diane Wehrle noted, "Footfall across all formats declined annually last week, continuing the trend recorded since mid-November.

This is symptomatic of the pressures on the retail sector this Christmas. However, the upside for high streets and retail parks is that they have recorded smaller annual declines than shopping centres.