High street prices plummet as retailers hope for Christmas sales boost

Shops are slashing their prices in the run-up to Christmas amid a crisis on Britain’s high streets, a report has found.

Prices have fallen by 1.8% in November compared with a year earlier, with fashion and DIY retailers most likely to have discounted their products, according to the BRC (British Retail Consortium)-Nielsen shop price index.

Knocked back by two lockdowns this year, many shops have been left in a precarious financial position and are competing for Christmas trade.

The decline in prices last month was driven by non-food products, which reduced in price by 3.7% after a 2.7% fall was recorded in October.

Food prices were 1.3% higher in November than a year earlier, although shop price inflation remained low.

Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at Nielsen, said this is because supermarkets were “competing for the wallet of the Christmas shopper when sales of seasonal food and drink increased at the end of November”.

The collapse of high street giants Debenhams and Arcadia this week will have spooked high street chains even further.

Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive, said: “Those shuttered during lockdown have lost billions in sales and many are now in a precarious financial position.

“The government must not subject these businesses to a return to full business rates liability from April 2021, and they must urgently consider extending the moratorium on debt enforcement beyond January.

“Without such interventions, we will see countless more store closures and job losses, deepening the crisis on our high streets.”

A separate report found two-thirds of people are planning on buying Christmas gifts from independent shops.

Some 43% said this was because they wanted to support the community during the pandemic, according to the report by the British Independent Retailers Association and Starling Bank.

A similar proportion (42%) wanted an original gift selection, while 25% felt shopping at local stores is more convenient.

The average person choosing to shop with independent businesses will spend about £119 on gifts.

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