M&S hoping for repeat of sale success

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Marks & Spencer will repeat its 20-per-cent-off sale tomorrow as retailers hold a second round of heavy price cuts to lure customers back to the high street.

M&S announced the move today following speculation of a repeat of its 20 November sale - the retailer's biggest one-day promotion for four years.

Tomorrow's one-day sale will apply to clothing, homeware and wine both in stores and online. Stores will also offer 20 per cent off Christmas cakes and puddings.

The discounts will apply on top of the recent reduction in VAT.

M&S said the sale would begin online at midnight tonight. Many stores would open early and remain open until midnight to allow customers to take advantage of the sale.

M&S executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose said: "Our last One Day Christmas Spectacular went down really well with customers. We know that people are feeling the pinch and we want to give them a helping hand in the run up to Christmas."

Debenhams, the UK's second-biggest department store chain with 147 shops, is also offering up to 20 per cent off items for three days from today.

It follows a similar three-day sale two weeks ago which it extended for a further two days.

Widespread price-cutting on the high street in recent weeks comes as retailers voice concerns that trading this Christmas could be the worst for many years.

Debenhams said its earlier sales days led to customer numbers increasing by about two thirds.

Michael Sharp, Debenhams deputy chief executive, said: "We're back by popular demand - it's as simple as that."

The sale will include womenswear, menswear and children's clothing, cosmetics and fragrance, Christmas gifts, homewares and accessories.

Online retailer Littlewoods Direct also announced a sale including 60 per cent off 5,000 lines and 3-for-2 on toys and gifts until 23 December.

The retailer's chief executive, Mark Newton-Jones, said: "As retailers, if we are serious in our claims to be putting our customers first, we have to make bold decisions on our prices and discounts.

"Despite the announced VAT cuts and falling fuel prices, customers are facing tough times this Christmas and we want to help ease them through this period."

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