Retailers have already been cutting prices earlier than the traditional Boxing Day sales to entice cash conscious shoppers through the doors. In the fashion space, French Connection and New Look were last week offering up to 50 per cent cuts, while House of Fraser had up to 40 per cent off and stores from River Island to Debenhams were offering between 20 per cent and 30 per cent off.
Many are now offering even heavier discounts. New Look has upped its offer to 60 per cent, while House of Fraser has been running 50 per cent off deals and Gap added an extra 20 per cent off sale goods, some of which are already discounted by up to 60 per cent.
M&S, meanwhile, ran a flash sale over the weekend to try to lure high street shoppers. It was promoted as being available for one day only, but ended up running on both Saturday and Sunday (21 and 22 December).
Elsewhere, Boots has extended its half price promotion offer from gifts to include toys and games, while it is offering a third off cosmetics from brands including Benefit, Nails Inc and Clinique. H&M has up to 60 per cent off sale items including trousers and jackets.
Figures from high street retailers suggest shoppers are leaving it late this year to make the most of expected price cuts. Argos said last week that its own research (conducted by Opinion Matters) found that one in six consumers had yet to complete their Christmas shopping.
John Lewis said a late shopping surge helped it exceed £160m in weekly sales for the first time last week, up 4.2 per cent year on year and 31.8 per cent compared to the same week two years ago. The firm says there has been a “different shape” to trading this year, with an early peak flattening out before last week’s surge.
The retailer anticipates further busy days today (23 December) and tomorrow (24 December).
Paula Nicolds, buying and brand director at John Lewis, says: “It’s clear that much of Britain has yet again taken shopping for Christmas right up to the wire.”