The figures might show an increase in retail sales - but experts have predicted another two years of misery on the High Street.
Office for National Statistics data showed an, on the face of it, upbeat 0.6% rise in sales between September and October - but the increase was boosted by in-store promotions, with discounts of up to 50%.
The findings prompted accountant Deloitte to warn the high street faces a rough ride with “no sustainable growth until 2013 at the earliest”.
And it comes after gloomy predictions from the Centre for Economics and Business Research on Wednesday that jobless figures will keep growing for another two years.
Richard Hyman, from Deloitte, said: “Christmas 2011 promises to be the most important moment in retail trading we have seen for many years. Demand has been softening throughout the year as the impact of the Government’s debt reduction strategy has started to filter through to the pockets of consumers. Therefore, it is very difficult to see where future sales growth will come from.”