No panic as Christmas shopping sales start early

Nicole Lowrie, 20, and Lucie Lowrie, 22, on Princes Street yesterday.
Nicole Lowrie, 20, and Lucie Lowrie, 22, on Princes Street yesterday.
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BARGAIN-hunters flooded stores yesterday as prices were slashed for “Panic Saturday”.

Retailers including River Island, H&M, Sports Direct, Argos and Sainsbury’s are already offering huge seasonal discounts – with many more sales due to kick off early instead of after Christmas.

But some chains cut even deeper to cash in on last minute shoppers with Argos offering discounts of up to 60 per cent on toys and half-price electrical items and gifts.

Sports Direct has dramatically reduced festive favourites such as dressing gowns and pyjamas by 80 per cent. WH Smith has slashed prices on some best-selling books by the same amount, and fashion items at BHS and Debenhams, perfumes at Superdrug, and gift sets at Boots are all down to half-price.

Around 12.6 million Britons were expected to hit the sales in search of bargains, according to the Centre for Retail Research.

A mild autumn and unexpectedly low Black Friday sales have left businesses desperate to shift a build-up of stock.

And thanks to Christmas falling on a Friday this year, “Panic Saturday” was expected to kick off a £6 billion six-day spending spree – 23 per cent more than the same period last year when Christmas Day fell on a Thursday.

Jason Gordon, consumer business partner at Deloitte, said: “Compared to 2014, there is already a noticeable increase in both the volume and value of discounts in the run-up to Christmas this year.

“Whilst this is good news for consumers looking to grab a bargain, it is a clear sign that retailers are being faced with what is now an annual uphill battle.”

Credit and debit card giant Visa were predicting that shoppers would spend £1.14bn on Visa cards in stores yesterday, which is up by 3 per cent on last year.