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Shopping discount frenzy as prices slashed Northern Ireland retailers

By Claire McNeilly

Published 05/01/2016

Retail expert: Donald McFetridge
Retail expert: Donald McFetridge

Northern Ireland shoppers continue to benefit from massive savings of up to 75% in the January sales.

Boxing Day may have been one the busiest days for the high street in years - with 14 million people hitting stores across the UK and a further 11 million bargain hunters going online - but thousands of local consumers are now enjoying a new year splurge.

That's because major retailers are continuing to slash prices on coveted fashion, tech, household, and travel items.

Despite early discounts - which initially began with Black Friday (November 27), followed by Cyber Monday (November 30) and hit fever pitch on Christmas Eve - many cost-conscious consumers have been holding off for top deals this month.

Popular household names such as Next and Marks and Spencer have played ball by reducing sale items by up to 70%, while other well-known high street retailers including Argos, Boots and Currys have knocked off even more on certain goods.

Department store Debenhams is offering savings of up to 70% on clothing, beauty and home essentials, as well as up to 60% off selected furniture and beds for those either moving or redecorating in 2016.

Meanwhile, Tesco has slashed 50% off electricals, furniture and more, as rival supermarket Asda offers huge discounts acrosswomen's, men's, children's wear and home essentials, with prices starting from £1 on clothing and 70p for home accessories.

Retail expert Donald McFetridge, who is based at Ulster University's business school, said shoppers could snap up excellent deals as retailers attempted to rid their shelves of old stock. "After the mad rush of Christmas spending, which came in the final week leading up to the event, consumers are still seeking out bargains in what is traditionally known as the January sales," he said.

"There are still plenty of bargains out there, particularly in the fashion and footwear sectors as a result of the unseasonable weather conditions.

"Many consumers still have to buy that warm winter coat or pair of boots and, with plenty of stock still available in many stores, there is going to have to be more heavy discounting by retailers to get rid of last season's stock."

Mr McFetridge warned traders of the dangers of creating customer fatigue by being too eager to cut prices.

"Many retailers are becoming far too zealous in starting their sales earlier and earlier each year, with the result that, by the time January comes, consumers are actually 'spent out'," he said

"2015 was a full year of sales, special promotions and marketing events which meant that, when the traditional sales period arrived, consumers were not noticing much of a difference in pricing structures.

"In fact, there was a lot of 'desperate discounting' this Christmas/New Year season as retailers tried to outdo themselves in the types of offers they were using in order to try to encourage consumers to continue spending."

Mr McFetridge said that the result of sales all year has led to disappointment for many consumers, some of whom have complained that they are dismayed with the products and prices which are now on the shelves.

"The high street has almost become like the furniture store DFS, where everything is on sale all the time," he said.

"But, a word of warning for retailers: consumers have learned that sales all year mean no sales at all."

Belfast Telegraph

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