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Blog: Sale away

It seems that Marks & Spencer boss Stuart Rose’s advice to retailers to hold fire on pre-Christmas Sales at the Drapers Summit last month has fallen on deaf ears.

As the countdown to Christmas continues, retailers are starting to buckle under the pressure to get sales at any cost. Markdowns on the high street are up to 50%, with businesses offering all manner of discounts to get cautious shoppers to part with their cash (see Drapers Xmas Sale Watch).

People always spend money at Christmas – so they say – and it will be the credit card bills that will give shoppers the real New Year hangover.

But in a way, it is inevitable that after such a tough year of trading, worries over the credit crunch and predictions of a house price crash, it was always asking a little too much of retailers to believe shoppers were just leaving it a little late this year.

Maybe those who stand firm will be the winners when shoppers come out in force over the next two weekends, or maybe they will be left disappointed when people forsake the high street to get on the road to see loved ones on the crucial last weekend before Christmas.

But at the moment, as retailers across the sector try every trick in the book to get punters through the door, maybe even Mr Rose might be thinking twice.

What do you think? Are you committed to a post-Christmas Sale? Is a Sale-free Christmas a thing of the past?

Readers' comments (4)

  • As an Boutique in a town where we only have indi's, up until this year what the high street do has not really effected my sale plan, this year however I have faced two other clothes shops in the town go into full half price sale from the middle of November - at first i paniced that my customer would go for the sale merchandise, price over style, in fact the opposite has happened, we have had a great month, people know we only go on sale after Christmas and end of June.When they see an item they are confident that it won't be marked down before that date, if only the multiples could hold fast, the high street would look much more festive with decorations not sale banners.

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  • Oooh, where is Narberth? Only indie stores? Sounds like HEAVEN!We "compete" with Zara, gigantic Primark, de-luxe fit, Peacocks (which had a load of of old wardrobes plonked in the middle of the store and now think they have a boutique "feel"...perlease!) a nice new Ted Baker store plus every other High St. retailer. Moi? A few in - situ markdowns, concentrating on the few lines that ARE selling, a smile when I feel like yelling "it looks great! it fits (despite the fact that the body is a tad lumpy) it's £35 and Made in England!"...but, NO, they trot of up to Primark to see if they can purchase a comparable item for 8 quid.
    They can't but the botox bills are attacking the clothing budget.

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  • The general public are not daft, and when the big boys stupidly go on sale pre xmas, it confirms to the masses, that its worth while hanging off and getting bargains in the last 10 days. The thing about the multiples is they are a faceless business that temporarily holds the reins for the shareholders and will blame the guy who did the job before/after them for any drop in performance, so they can throw on a sale whenever it suits, regardless of the fact that its killing the one time we retailers are meant to make a buck. I yearn for the day that sales begin in january and the independent retailer has their chance to shine again

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  • Why do stores go on sale before Christmas? Because they've bought too much for the prevailing conditions and can't possibly hope to shift it. Too many buying budgets are not based on experience but on hope or the premise that it can't be as bad as last year. In the catalogue of lame excuses, I'd put money on us having to hear about the warm autumn again (how many years have the autumn's been warm now?). It won't stop though, because the bosses get their bonuses or pay-offs anyway, so where's the incentive for good corporate governance?

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