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Non-stop Sales are low on excitement

This week I attended a customer card-holder evening at a well-known department store in London with a fellow shopaholic. The store in question was offering a 15% discount on all purchases (with a few minor exceptions).

So with our credit cards quivering in anticipation of a good bashing, we entered the store full of energy, tried various items on and emerged just over an hour later having bought absolutely nothing at all.

Our uncharacteristic restraint had nothing to do with the product on offer – it was all beautiful – or that we were overly concerned about the credit crunch (although maybe we should be). The reason was that in the face of the 25% or even 50% Sale signs that were being hoiked up in windows elsewhere, a 15% discount just didn’t feel compelling enough. Not even after two complimentary glasses of warm white wine.

Of course, the mid-season Sales that we’re witnessing now are nothing new – we always see pre-Easter discounting on the high street. But the early arrival of Easter and the depth of the price cuts make this season’s Sale activity seem much more pronounced than usual. Some retailers still had hangover Sale stock from autumn in their stores last week, and now they’re adding in spring stock.

It would take a brave retailer not to cave in and join the Sale fray when faced with falling consumer spending and rivals’ discounting, but I can’t help feeling that with the seemingly endless Sales and special offers , we’re in danger of breeding a nation of shoppers that won’t pay full price for anything. After all, why should they if they don’t need to?

Lauretta Roberts is Drapers’ Editor.

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