PwC found that almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of high street retailers were offering sales or promotions in their shop window in the seven days to yesterday (12 December), down on the 69 per cent that were running offers this time last year. However, the depth of their discounts is deeper, at 42 per cent compared to 36 per cent last year, as retailers battle to attract Christmas shoppers.
Mark Hudson, retail consulting leader at PwC, says there is less discounting than last year, with retailers appearing to be in “pretty good shape” in the run-up to Christmas, boosted by the improving economy. However, with consumers increasingly promotionally savvy, many retailers think they need to offer discounts to be “in the game”, he adds.
Hudson says: “The number of retailers running promotions suggest that there is a base level of activity which is seen as necessary. Expect the unexpected in the next week – both in-store and online – as the fight for the Christmas spending will go to the wire.”
His comments echo those of Asda’s CMO Stephen Smith, who claims shoppers at the supermarket had spent up to 6 per cent less of their total Christmas budget than at the same point last year. Speaking at an event in London this week, he said shoppers are waiting in the hope of price cuts and there is still “a lot to play for” in the last days.
Today (13 December) is predicted to be the biggest card spending day of the year, with research conducted by the Centre for Retail Research finding that consumers will make 23.4 million transactions totalling £870m. Overall in December, spend is expected to hit £36bn, up 4 per cent on last year.
Retailers hoping to appeal to customers looking for a bargain include Tesco, which is running a weekend of discounts on “big brand” electricals such as Samsung tablets, the iPad mini and Amazon’s Kindle e-reader. Boots has a half price offer on gift packs, Currys has up to 50 per cent off home audio and Argos is offering savings on items from coffee machines to Beats headphones.
In the fashion retail space, French Connection and New Look are offering up to 50 per cent cuts. House of Fraser has discounts of up to 40 per cent and stores from River Island to Debenhams to H&M are offering between 20 per cent and 30 per cent off.