I take my hat off to the indies polled for this week’s Indicator survey, who remain resolute that they won’t go into Sale before Christmas.
The high street’s resolve crumbled some time ago and one by one they’ve reached for the red pen and slashed their prices.
Debenhams is already on its third three-day spectacular, having barely come up for air in between each, since each three-day offer is often extended. And, having sent the nation into a frenzy with two 20%-off days, Marks & Spencer has slashed the prices of a number of its lines by up to 30%. Some retailers, of course, have gone on Sale by stealth with friends and family discount vouchers, while others have quietly marked
down stock. A number of other retailers have unashamedly gone into full Sale.
It is all entirely understandable of course. It would be very hard to sit back and watch shoppers walk past your door and into the next shop because that retailer is offering discounts. But I am fearful for what all this means for the long-term psyche of shoppers. Any January Sales there are will have lost their edge – all the good stock will be sold already – and how long into 2009 will it be until spring stock needs to be discounted before shoppers cave in and start buying that? It is a worry that the consumer is becoming accustomed to not paying full price for anything.
Retailers need to do what they need to do – and that means discounting – to get theirfair share of the Christmas spend but the markdowns can’t be sustainable in the long term. Come next year, retailers are going to have to think of more sophisticated ways of getting shoppers to part with their cash.
Lauretta Roberts Editor