The Christmas shopping adverts from the major department stores have been running on television for a few weeks already and the usual fairy-tale images and winter warming sentiment is ever present. But it's not looking like it will be a fairy-tale Christmas for UK consumers.
A harsh squeeze on British households remains: data this week has shown inflation bubbling at 3% and annual earnings growth averaging 2.2%. This equals a negative wage gap of 0.8 percentage points.
Thanks to record low levels of unemployment - at 4.3% in October, UK joblessness remained at a four-decade low - consumers have, hitherto, felt comfortable with borrowing to offset the fall in real wages.
The recent Bank of England rate rise, however, means that borrowing has suddenly become more expensive and consumer are likely to become increasingly wary of extending credit.
The annual pace of consumer credit growth has been above 10% for much of the year - only slowing to 9.9% in September. But a steep fall in car loans indicates that figure is likely to weaken in the coming months.
Indeed, credit card company Visa reported this week that UK consumer spending declined for the fifth time in the past six months in October.
So, what of Christmas? It is the peak season for British retailers, and while it is unlikely to be a total washout, recent retail reports have been disappointing.
“The pre-Christmas trading season got off to a poor start for retailers with October spending falling at the fastest rate in over four years," says Mark Antipof, chief commercial officer at Visa.
"The figures are a stark indicator of the strain on household budgets even before the Bank of England’s (BoE) recent interest rate rise," he adds.
Official retail sales data from the Office for National Statistics showed that annual pace of retail sales fell 0.3% in October, the first fall since 2013.
"The combination of high inflation and meagre wage growth means that real pay continues to fall, the consequence of which is being increasingly felt on the high street," says Chris Williamson at IHS Markit.
Breaking down the inflation data shows that food and non-alcoholic beverages prices rose by 4.1% in October, the biggest contribution to the overall rate. Housing and household services and recreation also made large contributions.
Food sales are important for grocery retailers around the Christmas period, and any major slowing in consumer activity at this time will have a severe impact on supermarket sales.
Under the BoE's forecasts, inflation is likely to slow over the coming few months while wage growth picks up.
Looking first at inflation, the biggest impact on prices has been the weak pound - particularly for imported goods. The Bank hopes that its rate hike will add support for the UK currency and its inflationary impact will weaken.
But is this really likely given the uncertain economic and political environment?
Lukman Otunuga at FXTM thinks not: "With the trajectory of the pound tilted to the downside amid mounting political risk and ongoing Brexit uncertainty, the BoE could receive an unpleasant surprise, in the form of rising inflation before year end.