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Debenhams’ Sale strategy praised

Concession operators have praised Debenhams for its five-day on three-day off discount strategy, after Christmas sales at the department store took off.

Debenhams has held five-day Sales offering shoppers 20% off for three consecutive weeks, in an effort to stimulate trading. Debenhams said its strategy was in line with last year with just one additional Sale day so far, but that a bigger PR campaign had boosted business.

One concession partner said: “Debenhams has been trading its socks off and [chief executive] Rob Templeman has done a good job at catching the competition on the hop. His trading stance has been excellent in this tough climate.”

Another concession operator in Debenhams said while sales hadn’t spiked to the level of previous one-day ‘Spectaculars’, they had been good across the week.

Other retailers said that trade had continued to be tough despite the interest rate cut and VAT reductions. One executive director of a large fashion chain said a lot of retailers with concession operations planning to launch full pre-Christmas Sales.

He said: “The amount of discounting is becoming a problem. We may be forced on Sale pre-Christmas because of it. Shoppers are becoming so used to department store Mega Days that it is becoming the norm.”

Another director of a fashion chain said: “It’s all about trading through to Christmas with the least markdown possible.

“How little you can discount to get sales is key. If you can trade to Christmas with 20% or 30% off then that’s better than waiting until after Boxing Day and clearing more stock at 50% off.”

Speculation in the market suggests the majority of retailers will launch full Sales next week – one week before Christmas.

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