Bargains out in Edinburgh’s big shops

Some shops do have sales on to compete with online retailers. Picture: Neil Hanna

Some shops do have sales on to compete with online retailers. Picture: Neil Hanna

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Top department stores in Edinburgh’s city centre are bucking national trends and banking on their traditional post-Christmas sales to help ring in the profits this festive season.

A report released by PricewaterhouseCoopers showed two thirds of high street stores across Scotland had last week resorted to promoting discounted goods and sales as retailers scramble to catch the eye of increasingly savvy ­shoppers.

But some of the Capital’s largest outlets, including Harvey Nichols and John Lewis, have resisted the urge to slash in-store prices, with the brands instead sticking to traditional Boxing Day promotions.

Hundreds of bargain hunters are still expected to queue outside the doors of Harvey Nichols, facing onto St Andrew Square, on Boxing Day despite rapid growth in online ­shopping.

Security measures have been needed in the past, with 600 shoppers having stampeded through a side door in 30 ­seconds just two years ago to win the rush for bargains.

John Lewis – the largest retailer at the St James Centre – will not start its online clearance until 5pm on Christmas Eve. A widespread sale at the chain’s Edinburgh outlet will not start until three days later.

John Lewis Edinburgh managing director Barry Blamire said: “We won’t be pro-actively discounting goods in the run up to Christmas. However, we will still be offering the lowest prices on the high street by matching our competitors’ sales through our Never Knowingly Undersold commitment.”

A spokesman for Harvey Nichols said the Edinburgh store ran a VIP discount scheme in the lead-up to Christmas to reward frequent customers, but did not otherwise run storewide sales.

“This store in particular is famous for the Boxing Day sale, which is one of the best in the country in terms of the ­discount you can get,” the spokesman said.

Online gift shopping has exploded on the back of events such as “Cyber Monday” on December 2. Online retailer Amazon racked up 4.1 million sales in the space of just 24 hours in its busiest day of the year so far.

However, Essential Edinburgh chief executive Andy Neal said many of the city centre’s high street retailers, including Jenners, still favour a traditional approach.

He said: “There are definitely deals to be had on the high street at the moment, but I wouldn’t say that there’s a big drive towards lots of sales. There are some big names that can more or less choose how they operate.

“People will still want to go and see what Harvey Nics has got – not necessarily on offer, but on display and enjoy the whole Christmas layout of the store.

“Likewise with Jenners, you’ve got to visit it if you’re coming to Edinburgh. A lot of our retail offer has something very special about it anyway and there’s not the same need to discount.”

Some of Princes Street’s ­biggest retailers have still slashed prices. Debenhams is promoting up to 30 per cent off in-store items across every department until tomorrow in its “Ultimate Christmas ­Spectacular” sale.

You can still bag a good deal

Pre-Christmas bargains can still be found at major retailers along Princes Street as the high street stores attempt to woo shoppers.

A Biba embossed leather women’s handbag was being sold for £139.50 by House of Fraser yesterday in a 50 per cent price cut.

H&M was also cutting up to 50 per cent off selected stock, with the cost of a house name full-length black dress slashed from £14.99 to just £7. A pocket-sized bottle of Famous Grouse whiskey with glass was on offer for £6 in BHS, with the department store taking 20 to 30 per cent off its fashion ranges.

Top Shop was promoting up to 30 per cent off stock. However, Marks & Spencer was one of the few stores with no widespread sale.