Catalogue store group Argos is offering four years’ interest-free credit on furniture for the first time, as it woos value-conscious shoppers.

Argos, owned by Home Retail Group, has also launched what it describes as its first “Home event catalogue”, which carries about 200 half-price offers.

Furniture and home-related retailers have been among the worst hit by the downturn, which has been exacerbated by plunging house prices.

Home ownership and rising prices have underpinned the retail sector’s growth for years, but are now expected to fall by as much as 25 per cent in the wake of the credit crunch.

Other furniture retailers are offering four-year interest-free deals already. However, as well as emphasising its value credentials, Argos’s initiatives are likely to pile further pressure on rivals, which lack its scale as the UK’s biggest general merchandiser.

An Argos spokesman said: “While we have produced dedicated home catalogues in the past, this is the first time Argos has produced a seasonal catalogue with a focus on value for our customers through a seasonally relevant product mix of quality furniture and homewares at great-value prices.

“The inclusion of our four-year interest-free credit offer on a selection of products in our higher price range is a first for Argos and demonstrates our commitment to ensuring customers can remain confident about purchasing the products they desire.”

Home Retail was scheduled to issue a second quarter trading update as Retail Week went to press. Analysts expected Argos to report like-for-likes that were flat or slightly down.