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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 November 2006, 17:15 GMT
Stores launch festive sales blitz
Sale sign on UK High Street
Retailers appear to be already concerned about festive sales
High Street retailers have launched a series of sales and special offers in a bid to lure stay-at-home consumers into early Christmas shopping.

The marketing push comes as the latest statistics show that retail sales are down on last year.

Christmas trading represents up to 60% of turnover for some stores, which fear that shoppers are waiting until the last minute in their hunt for bargains.

Argos, Currys, Debenhams and Borders are among the chains slashing prices.

Other retailers, including House of Fraser, Homebase, Focus, Tesco, Halfords and Superdrug, have introduced savings of up to 50%.

There has also been a rash of discount vouchers being distributed over the internet, as limited schemes are sent far and wide via e-mail.

One voucher, which entitles bearers to a 40% discount of all wine and champagne at Threshers until 10 December, has reportedly been downloaded 500,000 times after it appeared on the website of one of the wine merchant's South African suppliers.

The BBC has also found online discount vouchers for stores including Selfridges, Urban Outfitters, Oasis, Dorothy Perkins and Warehouse.

Limited bargains?

The deals coincide with the latest statistics from research group Footfall, which reports that the number of shoppers visiting department is down 9% on the same time last year.

And new figures from the CBI have said that retail sales fell in November compared with last year.

"They are clearly concerned that they are not getting enough people through the door at the moment," said Bryan Roberts from Planet Retail.

But he said that shoppers should not expect the bargains to still be around in the week before Christmas.

"By offering these one-off specials, they are hoping to get people into their stores who might come back over the course of the coming months to spend at full price."

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