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High street suffers festive Sale fever

It has been interesting to read the opinions of independent retailers on the subject of pre-Christmas Sales in our Indicator survey. Three quarters of the men’s footwear indies we polled were against the idea of discounting before the big day, with one saying the potential loss of margin was “reckless”.
You have to admire that attitude, and it would be great if such retailers had support from across the market. It takes great courage not to offer some form of discount if others are doing so.

However, judging by the proliferation of Christmas promotions on the high street, along with the ubiquitous email discount voucher, it would seem many multiples have lost their nerve.

One womenswear multiple I visited this week had a large proportion of product on Sale, with discounts of 50%. That is one hell of a discount to be offering when there are still two crucial weekends of pre-Christmas trading to go. And the store wasn’t alone in offering big savings to customers.

Several stores that weren’t visibly offering discounts were operating a stealth Sale in the form of discount vouchers. The theory is that you have to present the voucher to get the discount, but in reality harassed sales assistants often deduct the discount at the checkout without even asking if you know about the voucher, let alone have one.

I’m sure the retailers concerned have their reasons for slashing prices. But if you have already spoilt your customers with pre-Christmas Sales, you’ll need to offer an even bigger incentive to lure them back in-store after Christmas, which retail pundits are predicting will be a super-tough time for trading.

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