Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 8°C

min temp: 7°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Retail: Shop prices slashed in run-up to Christmas in bid to boost festive sales, says BRC

06:00 08 January 2014

Bargain hunters received a boost ahead of Christmas as retailers resorted to heavy discounting, according to the British Retail Consortium.

Bargain hunters received a boost ahead of Christmas as retailers resorted to heavy discounting, according to the British Retail Consortium.

Shop prices fell at their fastest rate for at least seven years last month as high street shops and supermarkets resorted to aggressive discounting to boost festive sales.


The British Retail Consortium (BRC) hailed a “double whammy of good news for cash-conscious customers” after overall shop prices fell by 0.8%, dropping for the eighth consecutive month and at the fastest pace since its survey began in December 2006.

Households were offered some welcome respite as food price inflation slowed to its lowest level for more than three years - at 1.7% - while widespread discounting in the wider retail sector saw non-food prices fall by 2.3%, according to the figures from the BRC and Nielsen.

Mike Watkins, head of retail and business insight at survey partner Nielsen, said: “This will have brought a festive cheer to shoppers filling their trolleys with food and drink at supermarkets, especially as Christmas fell later this year.

“With the continuation of price cuts and promotions across all of retailing, and with many shoppers holding back on shopping to the last week, there will have been bargains and some great savings for the savvy Christmas shopper.”

But plunging prices are likely to have taken their toll on many retailers, with food chains in particular expected to have seen their profits hit.

The BRC said weak sales in the lead-up to Christmas led to higher than normal promotional activity as retailers fought over market share.

“While inflationary pressure in the supply chain remains benign, deep and widespread discounts have come at the expenses of profit margins,” it said.

Trading figures so far from retailers have revealed the pressure to discount in a highly competitive Christmas.

Debenhams last week issued a profits warning after disappointing festive sales forced it to slash price tags, while Marks & Spencer also launched a major sale, rolling out its “Mega Day” on the Saturday before Christmas, with 30% reductions across clothing lines.

The BRC-Nielsen data showed prices fell across clothing and footwear, electricals and furniture and floorings, while the cost of books, entertainment and home improvement products also dropped to attract shoppers preparing for the festive break.

But the non-food price figures were also impacted by the inclusion of Cyber Monday early last month, which led many high street stores to follow the lead of their online rivals with hefty promotions.

In food shops, the best deals were found on alcoholic and soft drinks, as well as for meat, eggs, dairy products and vegetables.

The BRC said consumers were set for further food price cheer throughout early 2014. BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “With few signs of volatility in the supply chain at present, I would expect retailers to continue helping to keep the cost of living down, with prices settling at relatively low levels in the coming months.”

The BRC will publish retail sales figures for December on Friday.



A file picture of the Sanofi factory in Haverhill.

More than 50 jobs are to be axed at the Haverhill site of pharmaceutical group Sanofi.

Georgi Rollings, left, and Emma Lawrence of Starfish Accounting.

An Ipswich based provider of online company secretarial software has reached the landmark milestone of having 10,000 users.

Robert Hughes, managing director of Hughes Electrical, and Andy Yallop, store manager, at the company's new branch in Bury St Edmunds.

Hughes Electrical has opened the doors of its new store in Bury St Edmunds following a £200,000 investment which has also created six new jobs, doubling the size of its workforce in the town.

Barclays has been fined £72m by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Banking giant Barclays has been fined £72million by the City watchdog for failing to handle potential financial crime risks relating to a £1.88billion transaction for ultra high-net-worth clients.

Members of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce team outside the chamber's offices at Felaw Maltings in Ipswich.

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce is among the nominees in two categories of the British Chambers of Commerce Awards, which are due to be announced at a ceremony in central London tonight.

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere at the former sugar beet factory site off Sproughton Road.

A new Enterprize Zone involving 10 development sites across East Anglia, with the potential to create 18,500 jobs, was announced by Chancellor George Osborne today.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, delivering his joint Autumn Statement and Spending Review to MPs in the House of Commons
Photo: PA Wire

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and Comprehensive Spending Review today divided opinion between unions employers.

Natalie Moloney, of Woodbridge events firm Pink Lemonade Productions.

An entrepreneur is up for a fifth business award since her event planning company launched last year.

Tony Willson, managing director of Helmsman Services.

Colchester-based training specialist Helmsman Services has secured the largest contract in its 17 year history, for its construction-specific e-learning health and safety courses.

Thomas Cook has reported its first annual profit for five years.

The boss of holiday firm Thomas Cook said yesterday that disruption experience since the deadly terrorist attacks in Tunisia, Egypt and Paris was “unprecedented” in his 30-year career.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder

Property search

e.g. Oxford or NW3
Powered by Zoopla

Digital Edition

Read the East Anglian Daily Times e-edition today E-edition

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24