Retailers have kicked off a swathe of high-profile promotions to woo shoppers over the bank holiday weekend – the last public holiday before Christmas.

DIY giant B&Q is offering a 15% discount to customers who spend more than £50 in stores from Friday to Monday, while beds specialist Feather & Black will offer customers 10% off over the weekend on top of their other deals.

John Lewis is offering 55% off selected lines and expects to do well in back to school over the weekend.

Ernst & Young director of retail Jason Gordon said: “At the moment every holiday is important to retailers, but with the schools in the process of going back the bank holiday weekend will be pivotal to this part of the trading calendar.

“Every retailer will be keen to drive footfall into stores. Whether hard discounting is the way to do it is very doubtful.”

A B&Q spokeswoman said: “The August bank holiday is important for B&Q as it’s the final bank holiday of the year before Christmas.”

Carpetright group commercial director Martin Harris said the holiday trading days are important as it is the “starting point of the nesting period for the winter”.

“It kicks off the start of autumn trade, but it’s weather-dependent. A hot one would be a disaster, but I think it will be a good one as it’s forecast to be mixed weather.”

Feather & Black founder Adam Black said: “Bank holiday Monday is a huge day for us – we drive footfall on that day and advertise around it. We’ll take a couple of hundred thousand compared with an average Saturday when we’ll take £100,000. People who want a deal know they can get one on those days.”

The weekend weather is set to be unsettled, with blustery showers and warm, dry spells across the UK.

High hopes for fashion

Fashion retailers are gearing up for the bank holiday in the hope of shifting end of summer lines and capturing the last of the back to school market.

Marks & Spencer launched its summer Sale on Tuesday and Debenhams is offering 70% off thousands of lines until Monday.

Uniqlo UK chief executive Simon Coble said the weekend would be crucial for fashion retailers because it coincides with pay day.

Online retailers are also on Sale. Shop Direct, for instance, is offering 40% off across many of its sites.