'Panic Saturday' shoppers bag Christmas bargains as stores slash prices


Last-minute shoppers have been treated to the biggest pre-Christmas discounts in years as high street shops slashed prices in an attempt to coax consumers down the aisles.

Retailers including River Island, H&M, Sports Direct, Argos and Sainsbury's are already offering huge seasonal discounts - with many more sales due to kick off early instead of after Christmas.

Latest figures from financial advisory firm Deloitte said discounts averaged 44.9%.

A mild autumn and unexpectedly low Black Friday sales have left businesses desperate to shift a build-up of stock.

Jason Gordon, consumer business partner at Deloitte, said: "With the exception of 2008, this is the deepest pre-Christmas discount we've seen in the last decade.

"The warm weather has certainly had an impact on seasonal products - things like scarves, boots, gloves - and shops will be keen to get rid of those as soon as possible.

"Black Friday was also quite disappointing for many, sales weren't as high as predicted.

"Compared to 2014, there is already a noticeable increase in both the volume and value of discounts in the run-up to Christmas this year.

"Whilst this is good news for consumers looking to grab a bargain, it is a clear sign that retailers are being faced with what is now an annual uphill battle."

Around 12.6 million Britons are expected to hit the sales in search of cut-price buys, according to the Centre for Retail Research.

And thanks to Christmas falling on a Friday this year, "Panic Saturday" is expected to kick off a £6 billion six-day spending spree - 23% more than the same period last year when Christmas Day was on a Thursday.