Retailer promotional activity this year hit a high around the Black Friday period before since dropping away in the run-up to Christmas.

October and November saw promotional activity rise steadily peaking on Black Friday when more than 90% of retailers were offering some form of discount, according to new data from PwC. 

However, the data shows that since Cyber Monday, many retailers have looked to reduce promotional activity in the run-up to Christmas with participation dropping to just 61% on December 1. 

The data also shows that discounts on offer cover a broader range of products but are less in value than in previous years with half as many store-wide general merchandise promotions (13% in 2020 compared to 25% in 2019).

PwC said this year it had seen evidence of many retailers “attempting to maintain a consistent level of discount to attract shoppers whilst balancing margins”, compared to previous years. 

However, it noted that some parts of the sector worst affected by the coronavirus crisis, such as fashion, were bucking the trend and continuing to offer promotions in a bid to shift excess stock. 

PwC consumer market leader Lisa Hooker said: “Our analysis shows that retailers are being smarter around promotional activity, particularly for Black Friday. Reining in promotions between Black Friday and Christmas gives shoppers a feeling of value, but this year also allowed retailers to capitalise on any potential spend as lockdown restrictions eased and non-essential stores reopened in time for Christmas shopping.

“We expect an increase in promotions as we head towards Christmas and into the Boxing Day Sales but these are likely to be planned, targeted and not as heavily discounted as we’re used to seeing. Retailers are learning to use their approach to promotions more effectively, and this year it’s important that they hold onto as much margin as possible.”