Consumers now demand year-round discounting

UK consumers expect year-round discounting on the high street, according to a study of 350 large and medium-sized retailers.

Two-thirds (66%) of UK retailers feel that customer expectations have changed so much that larger price cuts are required to achieve an uplift in sales, according to a survey by the Centre for Retail Research.

The survey found that retailers believe shoppers’ attitudes have changed significantly in the wake of the recession with customers trading down and using more promotional vouchers.

A third (33.2%) of UK shops report that customers are only buying discounted goods, while 32.4% believe that consumers are making greater use of money-off vouchers.

David Goodridge, head of acquiring and acceptance at Visa Europe, which commissioned the study, says there has been a “significant” change in consumer behaviour with shoppers becoming much more price conscious.

“What is significant is that retailers are not only discounting but adapting their business strategy which will stand them in good stead beyond the recession,” he says.

The survey found that retailers appear to be responding to the change in consumer behaviour. A fifth of retailers (23%) say they have reduced all prices and 39% have implemented significant targeted price cuts.

A number of large high street chains have recently launched price promotions, including Marks & Spencer, which last week launched a “Penny Bazaar” campaign to celebrate its 125th anniversary.

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