Your browser is no longer supported. For the best experience of this website, please upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Discounts to ruin indies’ bank holiday weekend

Independent retailers are facing another battering from the discount-happy department stores this weekend, after haemorrhaging 0.6% – equivalent to £4.3m of sales – worth of market share by value in the three months to June 21.

Debenhams ramped up its 70%-off summer Sale to include more lines and deeper discounts as well as money off new season autumn ranges ahead of the bank holiday weekend, while Marks & Spencer also launched a Sale this week, with discounts of up to 50% in an attempt to capture more holiday weekend spend.

According to figures from retail research firm TNS WorldPanel Fashion, independent retailers saw their share by value fall 0.6% to 7% over the 12 weeks to June 21.
The total value of the market fell 2% to £7.1bn.

Womenswear sales at clothing indies were particularly hard hit, with share down 1.4% to 6.1%. This was against flat sales across the entire women’s clothing and footwear market, at £4.1bn.

TNS blamed the erosion of womenswear sales at indies almost entirely on the recent promotional activity within the department
store market. Key indie competitors such as Debenhams and House of Fraser have run almost continual promotions over the spring 09 season, while John Lewis has price-matched its rivals. 

The performance was in stark contrast to trading trends for the year to March 1, when womenswear indies saw sales rise 7% against a 3% contraction of the womenswear market to £17.2bn.

At the time, indies told Drapers that more shoppers were focused on quality brands and service, which had helped them buck the trend in the recession. Department stores saw their collective sales by value fall 2% to £1.56bn over the full-year period.

Rikki Hunt, director of contemporary womenswear independent Nine in Swindon, which stocks brands including Great Plains, Fever and French Connection, said: “The big retailers are all suffering badly and it doesn’t surprise me that they are discounting this weekend, but it is frustrating. They’re damaging other retailers too. It definitely has an effect on independents because it’s impossible for us to compete when we sell so much smaller volumes.”

However, there was brighter news for menswear independents, whose sales rose 0.7% to 9.8% against a total menswear market contraction of 5% to £2.1bn over the three-month period.

Kidswear indies also fared better, with share by value up 0.6% to 4.7%. The kidswear market as a whole grew 1% to £4.1bn over the period.

TNS client executive Julie MacPherson said: “Previously, indies were well placed to capture sales from consumers trading down from more expensive department stores. We now see independents losing out as department stores increase discounts to compete. In menswear and kidswear we see volume decline but average price is up, which is driving the share increase.”

Readers' comments (2)

  • Indies cannot compete in volume terms with the department stores. So when they are discounting at such high levels for such prolonged periods its no wonder that so many indies are struggling to keep afloat.
    It is frustrating that the brands don't have the power to prevent the department stores from discounting so highly.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I run a women's independent and we have definitely seen a fall-off in sales since the department store promotions kicked off.
    We had been doing well up to the early summer as people wanted something a bit different from the high street and liked shopping with us but the department store Sales at HoF and Debs has definitely impacted us.
    The bank holiday weekend is set to be a wash-out. indies have to keep offering something a little bit different from the high street guys to attract the shoppers.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.