High Street boosts discounts

Kasmira Jefford
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HIGH street retailers stepped up the battle to win over cash-strapped shoppers this weekend by slashing prices and launching promotions, days after Britain’s supermarkets announced fresh price cutting campaigns.

Top fashion retailers including Next and Gap launched a two day “flash sale” over the weekend, with items discounted at 50 and 30 per cent respectively while Matalan lured customers with a free £5 voucher when they spent more than £25.

Marks & Spencer, which employs 78,000 people, was offering an extra 10 per cent on top of the 20 per cent discount for staff and “friends and family” and Top Shop targeted students by offering 20 per cent off over the weekend.

The surge in one-off promotions came as supermarket giant Tesco announced last week that it will launch its biggest price cutting campaign in 25 years, investing £500m in lowering prices.

Britain’s other big four supermarkets are expected to follow Tesco in its latest price war initiative, which will see it cut the price on 3,000 everyday products from today.

Retailer Debenhams last week announced that profits would be higher than expected as promotions and discounts, including starting its summer sale five days early, had helped the department store to snatch customers from rivals.

Primark owner Associated British Foods warned last week it is having to discount more products than expected in the harsh consumer climate.

A spokesperson for the British Retail Consortium, the industry body, said retailers were competing harder than ever with their rivals on value. This is set to intensify in the three months to Christmas, when many retailers make the bulk of their annual profits.