By Maximilian Clarke

Shoppers are preparing to take to the high streets once again to seek out bargains in the sales in what is usually a chaotic, yet highly anticipated event.

This year, however, could be a different affair as many stores have already discounted heavily throughout November and December in a bid to balance the books after what has been a difficult year for retailers.

Online retailers are optimistic that this year they will be able to eat into the market share usually taken up by high street. On the back of what has been a crucial year in the growth of online shopping, there are hopes of a final flourish in trading to end 2011.

According to online retail platform Shopow, there are expectations of shoppers logging in on Christmas Day to beat the influx of people searching for new deals on Boxing Day.

“This is the first year when the online stores will pose serious competition to the high street in terms of the sales,” comments Ellen Flood, independent shopping expert from Shopow. “Shoppers will look to get a march on those who will flock to the shopping centres on Boxing Day by looking for sale items online as a more convenient and less hectic means of finding deals. And those who didn’t get what they wanted from Santa will also use the internet as a first opportunity to complete their wishlists.

“However, all retailers will be hoping they haven’t backed themselves into a corner by starting their sales too early. There are many discounted items being introduced immediately after Christmas and therefore plenty of bargains to be had. The danger is that shoppers could become desensitised by the idea of lowered prices and may not see the attraction as vividly as previous years. Those stores that did hold their nerve and their prices in the run up to Christmas have their last throw of the dice for this year if they are to recoup earlier losses.”

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