The British Retail Consortium (BRC) had said the pre-Christmas rush helped to boost UK retail sales in the final quarter. Of course, this was not the consensus across the board, and while on a like-for-like basis sales grew by 2.2% in December compared to 2010, that year was hampered by the snow storm that inflicted much of the UK.
For many, a Christmas boost was not enough to improve either the yearly performance or sentiment looking ahead to a difficult 2012.
Overall sales for the company (Thorntons Group, which includes Thorntons stores, Thorntons Direct and sales at supermarkets) grew 0.6% to £83.7 million for the 14 weeks to 7 January, equalling first half sales of £130.2 million, which is still down 2.5% year on year.
Like-for-like sales at its own stores were however down by 4.2% in the 14 weeks to 7 January.
Shares in Thorntons plunged 15.8% to stand at 11.89p.
The firm, which has 470 stores and 250 auto-centres in the UK and Ireland, revealed that revenue was down 2.1% in the final 13 weeks. Total retail revenue fell 4.4% year on year, while car maintenance was affected by the unseasonably warm weather leading to a 12.8% decline in the final 13 weeks of 2011.
However, cycling like-for-like revenue increased by 15.1% in the 13 weeks to December 30.
At 10.45am shares in Halfords' share price was 1.1% to the good at 296p.
Like-for-like sales for the sports retailer were up 0.1% over the five weeks to 7 January, a strong improvement after the much weaker trading period reported from weeks 34 to 42, where revenues were down 4%.
Shares in JD Sports were standing still on 692p.
Mothercare's sales were down 3% in the final quarter, much better than their forecasts, and continuing the message that they are struggling at home but flourishing abroad.
The company, which runs 350 stores in the UK, had witnessed a like-for-like sales decrease of 7% in August, but a 5% increase in December allowed for a better showing in the final quarter.
Mothercare had a tough year, despite a 3% increase in its global network, with the company placing its entire UK business under review and the departure of its chief executive Ben Gordon in October.
Shares in the firm jumped 3.3% to 170p on the back of the news.