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Christmas 2012 trading toughest in 40 years, says Debenhams

RBR Staff Writer Published 09 January 2013

UK retailer Debenhams has termed the just concluded Christmas trading period to be the toughest in the last 40 years as traders battled tightening spending and sluggish demand.

According to Debenhams CEO Michael Sharp retailers had to slash prices by unprecedented levels to lure customers and this ate into profits.

The retailer ran Christmas promotions for two additional days in 2012 while reducing prices by 50% on select knitwear, lingerie and beauty products in addition to an across-the-board 25% discount.

These measures helped the store post 5% increase in like-for-like sales for the period ended 5 January 2012 but at the cost of reduced profits.

Looking ahead the company expects a similar trend in terms of consumer spending but has ruled out the extension of the promotional to 2013, reported the Financial Times.

"We continue to believe that whilst consumers have become acclimatized to the new economic reality, we don't anticipate a significant change in consumer confidence in the remainder of the year.

"I don't think because Christmas was more promotional, 2013 will be... we don't plan to be more than last year," Sharp explained.