CREWE: Focus DIY is starting its 'January' sale on Monday, three weeks early and a week ahead of rival DIY stores.

Ashley Bates, trading director at Focus DIY said: "We are the first to launch our sale and this is the earliest we have ever started it."

The focus sale also covers on-line sales. Cash-conscious consumers turned increasingly to the Internet for their shopping as they searched for pre-Christmas bargains last month.

Internet shopping has grown rapidly over the past 12 months, rising from 7.9% of sales a year ago to 10.5% in November. The Office for National Statistics said the average weekly value of Internet sales in the past 12 months grew by 36.6%, compared with an average weekly rise of 3.4% for all retailing.