Exclusive: Torrential rain puts a dampener on indies’ sales
Indies missed out on crucial Christmas trade over the past week as wet weather swept across the UK.
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Heavy rain battered the length and breadth of the country, leaving some areas devastated by flooding. As Drapers went to press, there were 450 flood warnings in England and Wales.
Hannah Holloway, head of retail at contemporary womenswear indie Maze in Taunton, Somerset, said the store had almost been flooded and that the local River Tone bursting its banks had an “absolutely awful” impact on trading.
“We’ve continued to trade but it’s been like a ghost town,” she said. “It’s ever so difficult to pull those figures back once you’ve lost them.”
Rhowen Yoki, owner of young fashion indie Fusion, which has three stores in Cornwall, said travel in and around the area had been dangerous, leading to a dramatic drop in footfall.
“It has really affected trading over the weekend,” she said.
Yoki estimated sales on Saturday and Monday were down about 70% compared with last year and she would have to put on deals to attract shoppers. However, online business helped offset some of the damage.
At Peterborough womenswear indie Reba Boutique, owner Rachel Parkin said footfall was down as a result of the heavy rain. “Driving rain doesn’t really make you think of shopping,” she said.
Matt Horstead, owner of premium menswear indie Dartagnan in Chichester, West Sussex, said the weekend was a “total disaster”, with a late-night Christmas shopping event cancelled because of a downpour.
“It was diabolical. For the day we were down 50% and for the week we were down 42%,” he said.
Sales lost over the weekend could be lost forever, Horstead added. “I’m scared people will think it was their one chance [to shop] and it will push them online,” he told Drapers.
Paula Jauncey, owner of premium indie Emporio Clothing in Worcester, agreed. “It’s not something you can recover, it’s like a lost week of retail,” she said.
“People are always a bit cautious in November as it’s the lull before the storm and people tighten their belts before they spend in December.”
Jauncey added: “The one worry is that this will cause people to go on Sale slightly earlier. People have bills to pay and they’ve got to have sales and get people through the door.”