Eye-catching promotions used earlier than planned as sales badly affected by snowy conditions

Retailers are expected to shift promotions up a gear this weekend in an attempt to pull in shoppers who have put off Christmas shopping because of snowy conditions.

Some retailers have privately admitted sales are down by as much as 50% in badly affected areas, and some have had to close shops due to icy conditions.

Stores are likely to have a raft of eye-catching promotions now so that there is still time to take further action if necessary in a week’s time when the last full shopping week before Christmas starts.

One fashion chief executive said: “I think everyone will go on Sale early. They will either do it overtly or covertly. We will use the margin we have got and promote.

“I would rather promote by 25% now than 50% in two weeks. Customers are discount driven and they are waiting.”

Consultancy Booz & Co principal Jason Gordon said: “What we’re starting to see now is depth of discounts slightly deeper than last year. I’d expect that to widen this week and the week after.”

Another industry source said: “There’s a lot of talk of increasing promotional activity to make up the ground that’s been lost.”

Recent snow wreaked havoc on retail sales in affected parts of the country. Alexon group chief executive Jane McNally said she had to close 60 stores last week - the retailer has about 1,000 outlets including concessions. Another retail chief said: “The snow killed everybody last week and there are massive regional discrepancies.”

Game, which generates 25% of its revenue at Christmas, revealed that last week’s snowfall delivered a 1.5% like-for-like hit to its UK and Ireland business in the 10 weeks to December 4. It said it would not move its Sale forward.

Many retailers are already staging promotions, which they say were planned. For example, Debenhams is currently offering 15% off cosmetics and fragrances to drive footfall.

Promotions and Deals

  • A selection of who’s offering what:
  • Argos three-for-two on thousands of lines including fragrances and cosmetics
  • Asda 25% off more than 40 single malt whiskies
  • Best Buy up to 50% off some lines
  • Currys up to 40% off selected TVs
  • Laura Ashley 25% off everything
  • Liberty 15% off with loyalty card
  • Littlewoods half-price on selected toys
  • Marks & Spencer three-for-two on Christmas Shop lines; 50% off selected beauty, fragrances and toys
  • Morrisons buy-one-get-two-free on selected products
  • Mothercare extra 20% of all toys
  • Tesco two-for-£25 on some spirits
  • Waitrose 50% off smoked salmon and Champagne

Source: newspaper advertisements, retailer websites. Correct as of 8/12/10