Bloodbath on the high street

Bloodbath on the high street

• M&S slashes prices to shift stock
• Dixons worth just 10 days’ sales
• Retailers fear worst Christmas in years

Woolworths in Salford city centre

Woolworths in Salford city centre. The retailer revealed yesterday it is seeking a buyer. Photograph: Christopher Thomond

The scale of the crisis facing Britain’s high streets was underlined in dramatic fashion yesterday as Woolworths revealed it was seeking a rescue takeover of its stores and Marks & Spencer slashed its prices by 20% in an attempt to pull in shoppers and shift unsold stock.

Woolworths is likely to get just £1 for its loss-making 800-store chain. The decision to seek a buyer for the shops in mid-November reveals that the chain is dangerously close to bankruptcy. It makes 90% of its profits in the six weeks before Christmas and should be raking in cash at this time of the year, selling Christmas goods and toys.

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