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Sales start online as Christmas approaches

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It may be nine days before Christmas but, online, many sales are now in full swing.

Retail websites from Gap (up to 40% off) to Boden (up to 50% off) , the White Company (up to 40% off) and Fenn Wright Manson (up to 50% off) are all now proclaiming the start of their discount seasons. Debenhams is offering discounts of up to half price on its website,

Sale season comes earlier online, with peak ecommerce shopping now over and as final dates for free delivery approach. This year in particular, however, fashion traders will be looking to clear stock that has not previously sold. There have also been fears that Black Friday discounts would stoke consumer determination not to buy at full price.

Nonetheless, sales are starting at about the same time as they did last year.

Some retailers are still holding out in the hope of full-price sales through their stores. Marks & Spencer is currently looking ahead to New Year food sales on its website, while John Lewis’ clearance famously starts on Christmas Eve, online, and on Boxing Day in its stores. On its website, the department store is emphasising to customers that there’s still time to order for Christmas delivery.

Elizabetta Camilleri, chief executive and co-founder of SalesGossip, which rounds up fashion discounts on its website and mobile app, the retailers who’ve held off from the full sale by using flash discounts are playing a smarter game.

“Following Black Friday, we’ve seen a lot of retailers running pre-Christmas promotions,” said Camillieri. “Understandably, many of them are doing so to respond to promotions from their direct competitors. For me, retailers who are using flash sales and discounts on specific product categories to pique shopper interest and maximise returning traffic and footfall are incredibly smart – they’re competing without killing their profits.”

Amazon marketplace sellers are counting the cost after a glitch in repricing software automatically cut the price of their goods to 1p between 7pm and 8pm on Friday night. Sellers of goods from mattresses to televisions were hit by the event. Brendan Doherty, chief executive of Repricer Express, has apologised to sellers. “We are continuing to work to identify how this problem occurred and to put measures in place to ensure that it does not happen again,” he said.

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