Dixons had a disappointing Christmas, with sales up a meagre one percent from last year in the critical eight weeks to 4 January.

The group issued a profit warning yesterday, sending its shares tumbling 18 percent that morning, and pundits scurrying to make predictions of high street doom.

The stores group, comprising Dixons, PC World, Currys and the Link, is considered a bellwether of Britain’s retail and has consistently notched up healthy sales when other retailers have slipped.

The reasoning is that if Dixons is doing badly, things must be grim.

But the latest figures from retail analysts show that consumers have got wise, shifting their spending from the traditional pre-Christmas frenzy to January sales when bargains abound.

Commenting on the disappointing figures, Dixons' executives singled out poor sales of game consoles, audio products and extended warranties – the latter has long been a source of high profit margins for the group.

Maybe consumers have also got wise to the poor value offered by extended warranties on electrical goods.