Marks & Spencer will go on Sale next week, when the retailer hopes bargain-hungry shoppers will flock to its stores following a difficult trading period.

The timing of the high-summer Sale is similar to last year’s, an M&S spokeswoman said. She would not reveal how much stock is likely to be marked down. Discounts of up to 50 per cent are expected.

M&S’s Sale timing is likely to be replicated by other store groups as retailers compete in a fiercely promotional environment to win spend from shoppers whose disposable income has been squeezed relentlessly.

On Tuesday, BRC retail sales data showed that clothing sales had fallen below their year-earlier level and retail revenues slipped 0.9 per cent like for like overall.