Stores resort to early sales

Britain's retailers are resorting to early sales to lure shoppers discouraged from spending by economic gloom and the wet summer.

Research by PwC found that 70 per cent of high street stores were on sale or advertising promotions such as 3 for 2 in their windows compared with 60 per cent last year and 40 per cent in 2009.

PwC said the early bout of warm weather and the feel- good factor of the royal wedding drove healthy sales in late April and early May but that shoppers had reverted to type and were wary as austerity measures bite.

Mark Hudson, PwC's UK retail and consumer leader, said: "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.

Consumers are holding off on purchases and going online to find bargains, though the average discounts in shop windows were the same as last year at 45 per cent. PwC said that in surfing the internet for bargains, shoppers were repeating their 2008 behaviour.