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Figures tell a discounting story

Shops reduced prices in bid to boost sales before Christmas.

Shops reduced prices in bid to boost sales before Christmas.

High street retailers were forced into aggressive early discounts to lure in savvy shoppers as sales flagged before Christmas.

The Gazette reported at the end of November how stores across Blackpool had been heavily discounting in the run up to Christmas in a bid to tempt in more trade.

Now official figures show that, nationally, consumer spending growth nearly ground to a halt in the weeks before Christmas amid a marked trend for shoppers to target discount days.

Sales growth plunged after the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales events at the end of November and beginning of December, data from Barclaycard shows.

It reveals that after a 10.4 per cent leap that weekend, spending rose by a paltry 0.9 per cent between December 3 and 17, only marginally edging higher, to 1.2 per cent growth in the final six days before Christmas Eve - a drop when inflation is taken into account.

A raft of retailers, including major players such as Marks & Spencer and Debenhams, resorted to slashing prices in an attempt to boost trade, with the value of transactions falling by 3.5 per cent last month, the data showed.

But spending bounced back on Christmas Day and Boxing Day as the clearance sales began in earnest, rising by 13.6 per cent, followed by a 4.8 per cent hike on December 27.

Spending overall rose by 2.9 per cent year-on-year in December, but this was lower than the three per cent rise seen in November as a last-minute sales surge failed to materialise.

The Gazette reported in November how some stores slashed prices by up to 80 per cent in a bid to tempt in pre-Christmas shoppers.

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