Review of the Year - January

The year started with a sharp hike in travel costs. Car sales were sinking. Then, in mid January, Tesco delivered an absolute results stinker. The results were so bad that its share price tanked more than 15% in one day.

Then there was worry about benefits being pegged regionally. But a brief cheer for the return of weekly bin collections - if you were lucky.

Hard up

We started January 2012 with hard-up Britons travelling less as the economy flatlined and prices continued to rise. A lot of us were driving fewer miles to save money. This story also combined with costlier bus tickets, after Arriva increased the price of its annual Midlands saver ticket by a steep £100.

No surprise that UK car sales sank hard in 2011 with new car sales down in Northern Ireland by almost 12% - a huge dip. Welsh sales also were hit hard, down almost 10% while English sales slipped 3.9%. Fiesta remained the best selling new car in 2011 with VW's Golf the best-selling diesel.

Then, in mid January, Tesco delivered a results bombshell, despite pushing its Big Price Drop hard. The effect was electric, with Tesco shares plunging 15%, falling to close to 315p. UK consumers were starting to shift their allegiances as the economy continued to stumble.

Energy worry

Why shop at Tesco when it's often cheaper at Aldi or Lidl? Almost a year on, Tesco's share price has crept up modestly to 341p. But a long way off its 2008 475p price.

Then, news of energy bill hikes. Energy prices, it became apparent, had doubled in just six years. Energy companies then began to talk about cuts at a time of year when we all started to use rather less of the stuff.

Benefits parity

January ended with worry about UK benefits being pegged on a regional basis. Most AOL Money readers were outraged. If such payments were set regionally. Why stop there? Why not apply the same logic to the State Pension, not to mention other benefits too, if the Government was so minded?