United Kingdom

Black Friday: Desperate stores have already started slashing prices

Debenhams Phase Eight – Gold Farah Foil midi dress £59 from £120 50% off

The annual Black Friday discount frenzy is still a month away, but Britain’s shops are already launching waves of price cuts in a desperate attempt to tempt Covid-weary shoppers.

Experts and stores bosses have told The Mail on Sunday that retailers have fired the starting gun on a month of heavy discounting – already being billed ‘Black November’ – with many slashing prices early to beat rivals to the punch.

Debenhams is offering 50 per cent off top brands from Phase Eight to Principles, while House of Fraser has price cuts of up to 30 per cent on coats and 50 per cent on ‘must-have toys and beauty sets’ for its storecard holders if they visit its shops.

Clothing chains Ted Baker, Gap, H&M and shoe shop Clarks are advertising ‘mid-season’ sales with up to 50 per cent off.

Other price-cutting retailers this weekend include Argos – which is owned by Sainsbury’s – offering half price on selected toys including Hot Wheels Ultimate City from £90 to £45 and the Barbie Estate Dolls House from £135 to £67.50.

Black Friday is an imported marketing event from the US that has taken hold in Britain over the past five years. 

It is normally in the last week of November. But sources said shops had acted earlier this year over fears that more lockdown measures will drive shoppers away from high streets to the internet.

One retail executive, who asked not to be named, said it was ‘dead out there’, with city centre stores still worst affected because shoppers were reluctant to travel longer distances or use public transport, preferring local high streets and online shopping.

He added that heavy discounting next month was ‘inevitable’.

Henry Birch, chief executive of Shop Direct, the group behind £1.2 billion retail website Very, said the mood among shoppers was all about ‘staying away from the high street and shopping online’.

Liddesdale Quilted Barbour jacket £40 from £59.95 33% off

John Lewis Bugaboo Cameleon3 pushchair at £709 from £859 17% off

He said of his warehouse-based operation: ‘We’re going into this with momentum and from a position of confidence. Our feeling is that we are going to have a record Black Friday and Christmas – stronger than we’ve ever had before.’

But experts warned that the rising panic among retailers was in part driven by fears that Covid restrictions may disrupt business both in shops and online.

Marks and Spencer Burra Brook shiraz Case of six at £32 from £42 24% off Savile Row-inspired navy tailored fit wool suit £219 from £299 27% off

The British Retail Consortium last week advised shoppers to buy early to avoid shortages in stores and online next month.

Richard Lim, chief executive of the consultancy Retail Economics, said: ‘The retailers that I’ve been talking to are already talking about a Black November so they can try to manage the peak in demand.’

Ian Geddes, head of retail at company adviser Deloitte, said: ‘We may see earlier than ever discounting from retailers this year, enticing consumers to spread out their Christmas shopping and stage demand over a longer, more manageable period.’

But the strain of Covid shop closures and uncertainty has already seen some stores groups crack.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill, which also owns Peacocks, Jaeger and Austin Reed, has sought a court order to prevent creditors calling time on unpaid bills.

Department store giant Debenhams is seeking a buyer for its 120 outlets, with growing speculation that the chain may be slimmed down amid growing economic uncertainty. 

Fashion sales are still significantly down on last year, though home products and electronics are doing well.

Meanwhile, tough measures taken in Wales to restrict the spread of coronavirus have piled on more gloom, with shops and many other businesses closing.

Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw said the closure of ‘non-essential’ shops in Wales ‘is going to be difficult for many retailers who were already struggling’.

Paddy Lillis, general secretary of Usdaw, said last night: ‘Closing hospitality venues has a serious knock-on effect on high street shops, as their business suffers lower footfall.’ 

The bargains you can grab now 

House of Fraser

Liddesdale Quilted Barbour jacket £40 from £59.95 33% off

Diesel Buster tapered jeans £77 from £110 30% off

George Foreman Family Grill £32.99 from £50 34% off

Ted Baker

Ellgenc long belted wrap coat £197 from £339 42% off 

Gorrga chunky knit jumper £59 from £139 58% off

Joannah spotted T-shirt £29 from £49 40% off

Debenhams

Phase Eight – Gold Farah Foil midi dress £59 from £120 50% off

Cath Kidston cream London View buckle bag £30 from £60 50% off

Star by Julien Macdonald – bronze metallic wrap top £14.50 was £29 50% off

John Lewis

Selected Clarins, Clinique, Dior 15% off

Michael Kors handbags 20% off 

H&M

Padded Outdoor Jacket £17 from £34.99 51% off

Wool Blended Coat £50 from £79.99 37% off

Mama Ribbed Jumper £12 from £24.99 52% off

Gap

True Soft V-neck sweater £19.98 from £39.95 50% off 

Gap Mid-rise classic straight jeans in 360 stretch £27.48 from £54.95 50% off

Women’s Gap Logo hoodie £27.97 from £39.95 30% off

Marks & Spencer

Kids pyjamas 2 for £15 25% off

AO.com Nespresso by Magimix Vertuo Plus £79 from £179 56% off

Amazon

Lego Hogwarts Express train £63 from £74.99 16% off

Currys

LG 55in Smart 4K Ultra HD HDR OLED TV £1,399 from £1,799 17% off

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