Market watch: More winners and losers revealed in Christmas high street battle

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A THIRD week of Christmas trading updates will keep the health of the high street in the spotlight, with Carphone Warehouse, WH Smith and William Hill all reporting on their festive sales.

A strong line-up of best-selling books may have provided a boost for WH Smith. The group, which reports on Wednesday, saw sales slide 6 per cent over Christmas 2011 after a weak selection of celebrity biographies dented trade.

But retail experts said it stood to benefit from a more promising line-up at the end of 2012, with top sellers including Jamie Oliver’s 15-Minute Meals, Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart and JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy.

Carphone Warehouse will reveal if its hopes for a Christmas revival in the pay-as-you-go market came through when it updates on Thursday.

The group said in November it was “quietly optimistic” over the festive season as the availability of more affordable smartphones, such as Nokia’s Windows phone and Samsung’s Galaxy Y, was driving a sales turnaround.

Friday’s update on fourth-quarter trading from bookmaker William Hill follows a decent previous quarter, when a strong performance from football results offset weaker trading in its 2,379-strong ­retail chain because of the ­Olympics.

Rival Gala Coral recently reported a 22 per cent hike in over-the-counter takings throughout October and November thanks to favourable results. Morgan Stanley is predicting William Hill to report underlying earnings growth of 17 per cent for the final three months of its year.

Thursday’s update from budget airline EasyJet comes ­after the carrier recently reported a better-than-expected 4.9 per cent increase in the number of passengers flown last month.

Week ahead

Tomorrow: Council of Mortgage Lenders’ December figures

Tuesday: SABMiller

Wednesday: Unilever, WH Smith

Thursday: AG Barr, FirstGroup

Friday: William Hill