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High street sales strangle retailers

Thursday 30th June 2011
Last week 70% of stores on the high street were on sale or advertising promotions in their shop window, such as 3 for 2, according to research from PwC.

This compares to 60% this time last year and 40% in 2009.

Despite this increase of 10% on last year, the average price discounts being advertised were 45%, the same as 2010.

Mark Hudson, UK retail and consumer leader, PwC, said: "The early bout of warm weather and the euphoria around the Royal Wedding brought buoyant sales in late April and early May.

"Since then the weather has been windy, cool and wet, which has led to a 'back to type' sales pattern, and the UK economic gloom has continued to depress, meaning that consumers have purchased less.

"The reaction of some retailers has been to go into sale early - in particular the home and housewares retailers who are having a tougher time due to the subdued housing market. The only glimmer of optimism is that the weather men are still forecasting an Indian summer, so it’s not time to put those boots on sale quite yet."

Christine Cross, chief retailer advisor to PwC, said: "Changing purchasing patterns and the ability to see next season already online mean that consumers may decide to hold off purchases, rather than buy at full price for the current season.

"Will online growth see a shift in our seasonal mix and patterns of buying whatever the weather? There is no doubt that we are seeing a repeat of the 2008 consumer behaviour of using online to find deals and bargains and we expect the rate of shift from in-store to multichannel purchasing behaviour to increase this year. There is some hope: the good news is that vibrant colours are on trend this autumn, so we'll all have to go out and refresh those winter wardrobes."

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Mike Jones

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