Christmas shoppers have enjoyed a cut-price start to the festive season with retailers slashing prices in a bid to entice footfall into stores and cope with growing online competition.

Business advisory group PwC found that 62 of the top 100 high street retailers in the region were offering sale or advertising promotions in their shop windows, such  as three-for-two offers.

This is a rise of nine per cent on the number of outlets offering price cuts before discount days such as Cyber Monday and Black Friday. However the number of cut-price promotions is still down on the number of major retailers offering discounts in the same period last year. However, this is dwarfed by the Christmas of 2008 when three quarters of major retailers in the West Midlands were promoting price cuts.

Average discounts were being advertised at 39 per cent off the full recommended retail price, according to PwC data, compared to 45 per cent at the height of the financial downturn in 2008.

Andy Lyon, partner and retail expert at PwC in the Midlands, said: “The results show that the run up to Christmas is shaping up as usual with the level of promotional activity being ‘normal’ at 55 per cent. This indicates that stock levels are likely to be under control, but under constant monitoring, in contrast to the 75 per cent on sale post the financial crash in 2008 when demand plummeted.

“As expected, and in line with previous years, the proportion of stores with advertised sales increased to 62 per cent this week. This is consistent with ‘in control’ years suggesting that retailers are confident and holding their nerve this year.”

Spending in department stores rose 2.8 per cent year-on-year in November, having stayed in the red for 13 months in a row, data from Barclaycard showed.

But store sales growth was outpaced once more by online shopping, which leapt to 21 per cent of all spending.


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