Stocks subdued as England prepares for new Covid tiers – business live

We’ll get a fuller picture of the success of today’s Black Friday deals come Monday, but as my colleague Zoe Wood explains, total sales are set to soar.

Black Friday is expected to smash online sales records this year as struggling retailers slash prices in a desperate attempt to drum up trade after a lost November on the high street.

The discount day has become the biggest shopping event of the year but the stakes are far higher this time round as coronavirus restrictions mean some retailers have shops closed in three of the four home nations.

The virtual high street has already gone into overdrive. Last week online sales were 56% higher than in 2019, according to the internet industry body IMRG, with the stellar run of growth pointing to a “record-breaking month for online retail”.

Richard Lim, the chief executive of Retail Economics, said the success of Black Friday was easy to explain:

Consumers love discounts. If shoppers are looking to bring forward their Christmas shopping, retailers don’t want to lose market share to their competitors. They have to have skin in the game.

Some retailers have been running Black Friday promotions since the start of November but the volume of the deals has increased in recent days. It reaches a crescendo on Friday as companies set out their stall for a long weekend of shopping.

Fashion chains have been among the hardest hit by the shift to homeworking and curbs on socialising – and some of the striking deals reflect that. Asos is offering up to 70% off, while its rival Boohoo is slashing prices by up to 90%.

With Covid curbs creating pent-up demand, there is some good news for struggling retailers, with eight in 10 shoppers planning to make a Black Friday purchase, according to the personal finance website

Introduction: Stock markets subdued amid new Covid tiers


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