UK fashion retailers should hold their nerve when it comes to discounting to tempt cautious consumers to spend this Christmas, new research suggests.

The latest High Street Sales Tracker from accountancy firm BDO found that fashion sales declined 2.4% in October as consumers held off winter purchases. Instead, retailers were forced to wait for the weather to change before consumers' needs overtook their reluctance to spend. 

October is also traditionally seen as the start of the critical seasonal trading period.

Non-fashion sales rose 1.5% during the month, while overall like-for-like sales fell by 0.4%.

Don Williams, national head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said: "Better buying and supply chain control from retailers this Christmas means many are in a far stronger position to retain margin and footfall without needing to slash prices too early in the festive season. 

"We are also starting to see savvy retailers bring in specially bought lines intended for discount to entice shoppers through the door."

Many retailers stopped seasonal sales in mid-October to give themselves a clear run at Christmas. "This is far earlier than last year, and it is encouraging to see so many seem to have learnt from past mistakes," Williams added.