Great Britain

Shops slash prices to record lows with 75% off sales at Matalan, Next and M&S as the high street battles to survive

SHOPPERS have seen the price of goods at high street retailers fall to record lows over the past month with 75 per cent off sales at Matalan, Next and M&S.

The high street has been forced to close due to the coronavirus lockdown, which has pushed many into offering huge online sales in a bid to keep cash flowing through the doors.

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New data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC)-Nielsen shop price index for May reveals that overall prices slid by 2.4 per cent, following a 1.7 per cent decline in April.

But non-food retailers, such as clothing stores, saw prices slide by an even larger 4.6 per cent in May - the sharpest decline since December 2006 - compared to a decline of 3.7 per cent in April.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: "Shop prices in May fell at their fastest rate since 2006, which was largely driven by the drop in non-food prices.

"Clothing and furniture saw the biggest drop as retailers ran promotions to encourage consumer spending and attempted to mitigate recent losses."

Food prices rose by 1.5 per cent compared to 1.8 per cent in April.

Fresh food prices also moved marginally higher, with inflation slowing to 0.5 per cent from 1 per cent in the previous month.

Ms Dickinson added: "Year-on-year food prices increased slightly due to higher business costs, implementing social distancing measures and the upward pressure from labour shortages, but were down on the previous month as more home-grown produce became available.

"We expect to see continued upward pressure on food prices from the effects of the pandemic in the coming months, while non-food prices are likely to remain deflationary with subdued sales."

Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at Nielsen, said: "With the retail industry coping with store closures and social distancing limitations, it's no surprise to see shop price inflation slowing in recent weeks.

"Across the major supermarkets with sales growths in high single digits in May, the consumer spend on promotions has also been at an all-time low, but there has been little upwards pressure on prices.

"However, as we move towards summer with the importance of seasonal foods and with the supply chain still disrupted, we can anticipate some volatility in prices."

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