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Retailers had a cautious Black Friday amid Christmas sales fears

Consumer electronics chains reduced discounts during this year's bargain-fest

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Fashion chains cut prices more than others to off-load unsold winter clothing

Retailers cut back on Black Friday discounts amid fears that they could take a hit in the run-up to Christmas, according to brokers.

Consumer electronics chains reduced discounts during this year's bargain-fest compared to 2014's event, analysts said.

Fashion retailers were offering bigger discounts to off-load unsold winter clothing, but still appeared mostly to have offered smaller discounts than last year.

However, Debenhams (LON:DEB) and Marks & Spencer (LON:MKS), which offered savings of up to 70% and up to 50% respectively, may still have the biggest exposure, Liberum Capital said.

High street retailers are reported to have had a fairly quiet day on Friday, with bargain-hunters preferring to stay home and seek out deals on the internet.  

Analysts are set to pay close attention to results from several retailers in December to work out how the sector fared - and what the impact may be on festive sales.

Topps Tiles will post annual results on Tuesday December 1 and Sports Direct (LON:SPD), Darty (LON:DRTY), Carpetright (LON:CPR), Dixons Carphone (LON:DC.) and Supergroup (LON:SGP) are all due to update the market later in the month.

Liberum retail analysts said in a note: "Black Friday and our channel checks show retailers have realised that giving products away with 28 shopping days left to Christmas makes no sense."

Shoppers were forecast to spend nearly £2bn on Black Friday this year, with £721mln of that on the internet.

But analysts voiced fears that sales before and after the event may suffer as cash-strapped consumers save up to buy bargains, then cut spending in the run-up to Christmas.

Liberum said consumer electronics was the biggest battleground last year, although the atmosphere in stores and online this year was much calmer.

Game Digital in London's Stratford Westfield shopping complex was offering a limited number of deals and Home Retail's (LON:HOME) Argos store nearby was quieter, the broker said.

But Argos was among retailers reported to have had website problems as higher-than-usual numbers of shoppers hunted for deals online.

Liberum said there were some "attractive deals" elsewhere, such as at Dixons Carphone, which was also offering a limited number of discounted products.

Meanwhile, shoppers were expected to spend £1bn on Cyber Monday, with spending tipped to increase by 31% on last year as retailers cut online prices.

Shore Capital said Black Friday this year was likely to have led to a spending lull in November, prompting retailers to adjust their trading strategies next year.

The broker's retail analysts said: "Whilst all this learning ‎should make for a more balanced and profitable, or is that less loss-making, Black Friday for some, on a broader horizon, it looks like the shopper is winning over the shareholder when the broader peak period to New Year is considered.

"As such, we see relatively few grounds to be anticipating earnings upgrades from the retail trade in the UK as a result of the evolving Black Friday and Christmas period, whilst we hold our breath for any retailers that may have dropped a Black Friday ball."

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