Updates from four of the country's biggest retailers next week will reveal the current strength of consumer spending and prospects for 2012 as hopes grow for a tentative recovery.
Many retailers have struggled over the last year as consumers battled inflation, government austerity measures, worries about job security, a stagnant housing market and the impact of the euro zone debt crisis.
But the government and the Bank of England expect a rise in consumption later this year when inflation is set to fall.
While a March 6 industry survey said retail sales remained sluggish in February, latest official data showed they rose in January. That data and a string of promising business surveys have raised hopes of recovery in 2012.
Earlier this month John Lewis
A big expansion in existing markets and the development of a common range of products to improve profit margins will be key themes for Kingfisher
The owner of B&Q in Britain and Castorama in France said last month it would meet analysts' forecasts for underlying pretax profit of 799 million pounds in the year to end-January, a 20 percent rise on the 670 million pounds made in the previous year.
The group has forecast pretax profit of 558-572 million pounds in the year to end-January, roughly a 4 percent rise.
It is expected to give detailed guidance for 2012-13 after cautioning in January that it expected only modest sales and profit growth, citing concerns over the euro zone debt crisis, a credit squeeze and unemployment.
Analysts expect J Sainsbury
That would match growth achieved in the third quarter (14 weeks to January 7) and put it ahead of major rivals.
Debenhams will report on first half to end-February trading on Tuesday. Analysts expect broadly flat underlying sales.
(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Sophie Walker)