LONDON: British consumers are witnessing record pre-Christmas discounts for the sixth consecutive year, according to a new retail report that also expects the velocity of trading to increase and the spread of discounts to grow.
The analysis from Deloitte, the professional services firm, revealed that discounts currently average 43.3%, which is 1.5% deeper than last year, and this is set to rise to 54% by Christmas Eve.
Based on more than 300,000 products currently on sale in the UK, the study attributed the record level of discounts on offer to a range of factors, including last month's successful Black Friday as well as changeable weather conditions that have forced retailers to cut the price of winter fashion items.
Deloitte also noted changes in consumer spending, which has seen a shift away from goods and services towards leisure activities, such as eating out and entertainment, which has further deepened retail discounts.
While the findings present good cheer for Christmas shoppers, Deloitte also identified more worrying trends underlying its conclusions, especially when looking ahead to 2017.
"The fact that we have seen such deep discounts so early is an indication of the level of nervousness from the high street," said Jason Gordon, Consumer Analytics Partner at Deloitte.
"Economic uncertainty in 2017, particularly around how increasing inflation will affect consumer confidence and spending, has encouraged retailers to err on the side of caution," he continued.
"Deep discounts, calculated using increasingly sophisticated analytical tools, will help retailers shift stock and remain competitive before the uncertainties that lie ahead."
However, whatever 2017 brings, British consumers appear confident for the moment, as confirmed by the latest official data about retail sales in November.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), retail sales volumes jumped by 5.9% last month compared with November 2015 and all store types recorded growth.
The ONS also agreed that Black Friday had boosted sales in November and added that the "underlying pattern in the retail industry continues to show strong growth".
Data sourced from Deloitte, ONS; additional content by Warc staff