M&S plans flash sale as public waits later than ever to shop

Marks & Spencer has joined retailers trying to lure shoppers on to the high street before Christmas with plans for a flash sale across its stores tomorrow.

The high street stalwart has also cut prices on knitwear and its Per Una range by 30 per cent in recent days. It has, thus far avoided such flash sale days since its previous chief executive Sir Stuart Rose left, but his replacement Marc Bolland is under increasing pressure to turn around profits at its non-food business.

M&S's discounting comes as official sales figures showed customers remain cautious to splash the cash. According to the Office for National Statistics, sales volumes were up just 0.3 per cent last month after a surprise 0.7 per cent fall in October. Sales on the year were up 2 per cent.

Heavy discounting is already setting in across the high street as retailers fear being stuck with extra stock. Debenhams, H&M, House of Fraser and Currys PC World have also started offering discounts, and other stores are preparing for bumper Boxing Day sales.

Online shopping also continue to take many customers away from the high street, with the ONS revealing the internet now makes up 11.9 per cent of all sales, but overall some retailers are concerned because inflation continues to grow faster than wages. Some data suggests online shopping will top £10bn for the first time this year.

Department stores' sales meanwhile fell 3.1 per cent last month according to the ONS. They have been struggling, with John Lewis seeing a slowdown in sales and rival Debenhams hit by a series of downgrades and exposed for demanding a retrospective discount from suppliers.

The chief executives of the biggest grocers have all complained that although the economy is improving, it is still not being felt by customers because wages are rising by 1 per cent, while inflation is up by 2.1 per cent.

Tesco's chief executive Phil Clarke said recently: "Customers are less worried about the future and less worried about jobs. But they are not seeing that optimism in their wallets, or seeing their pay getting bigger."

The number of shoppers on London's Oxford Street and the surrounding area suffered particularly this week, with the number of shoppers falling 9.8 per cent over the last three days compared with the same period last year.

However, footfall did rise 7.4 per cent over the period compared with the same three days last week.

Retailers experienced a spike in the first week of December to coincide with Black Friday, which proved more popular in the UK than ever before, but shopping habits slipped as the Christmas rush is pushed later than ever before.

Retailers are holding out that this weekend will prove particularly busy especially as some workers who are paid bi-weekly will get paid today.

Early indications show customers have been heading to the shops later this year than previously, but with Christmas Day falling on a Wednesday, retailers hope this weekend will give the final extra boost needed.

Richard Lowe, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays, said: "Retailers are hoping for the proverbial late Christmas with consumers expected to make a last-minute dash for the shops this weekend.

"What discounting there is on the high street has been largely planned by retailers, so consumers will be able to bag some late bargains while stocking up on food and drink to see them through the festive period."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst with experienc...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Sales Team Leader - Wakefield, West Yorkshire

£21000 - £24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged b...

Ashdown Group: Head of Client Services - City of London, Old Street

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders