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Mild winter sparks deeper discounting on the high street

Retailers have continued to slash prices this week in a bid to attract last-minute Christmas shoppers, as trading struggles in the face of unseasonably mild weather conditions.

Around two-thirds of retailers are now running Sales, including H&M, Marks & Spencer, House of Fraser, Debenhams, BHS, Gap and Jack Wills.

Discounts are currently averaging at about 41.8%, according to accountancy firm Deloitte. This is likely to rise to 45% by this weekend.

Many are offering up to 50% off winter coats and boots.

Retail analyst Richard Hyman said this Christmas could be the “most discounted seen for generations”.

Software firm PCA Predict said retailers were pulling forward their Boxing Day Sales to manage a shortfall in shoppers after Black Friday.

Jamie Turner, co-founder and CTO of PCA Predict, said: “With Black Friday this year being the most successful yet, many shoppers have already managed to buy all of their Christmas presents.

“This leaves retailers vulnerable to a slow December and we could see them choosing to bring Sales forward to try and give themselves a vital injection of revenue.”

Others blamed the unseasonably mild weather. November was the warmest on record, while temperatures are expected to hit 17C in some parts of the country this weekend, according to the Weather Channel.

Earlier this week, H&M said sales in November had been hit by the warm weather across Europe.

Yesterday Bonmarché was the latest UK retailer to blame unseasonal weather conditions for a tough period of trading, issuing a shock profit warning.


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