High street optimistic that strong sales will continue towards festive season, reducing the need for discounts
Big-name multiples are hoping to avoid going on Sale before Christmas week this year – offering a much-needed fillip to the rest of the high street.
Retailers including New Look, Jones Bootmaker and Reiss are expecting sales of full-price product to be better than last year, on the back of a strong start to autumn. As a result, most are planning to hold firm and not start discounting early.
New Look head of multichannel buying Sally Heath said no decision had been taken yet but the retailer was unlikely to discount early this year.
“We are running fewer promotions in general and people are buying a lot more winter product than they did last year,” she told Drapers. “I think this will continue up until Christmas.”
Andrew White, managing director of footwear chain Jones Bootmaker, agreed autumn sales had strengthened, largely as a result of the cold snap.
“The weather is colder this year, which is definitely driving the sale of boots, and if that continues we will see strong sales right up until Christmas,” he said.
Reiss brand director Andy Rogers also predicted strong seasonal trade, following a disappointing 2011.
“Everyone is a lot more positive this year,” he said. “People are still being quite discerning about their purchases so retailers need to offer quality product, but I expect Christmas will be good for us.”
Smaller retailers have welcomed the news, after a year in which several independent retailers have closed down citing excessive discounting as a major factor.
Anita Kane, co-owner of contemporary womenswear and lingerie indie Sheen Uncovered and Ruby Blue in southwest London, said it was “amazing news”.
“If the high street stays strong then we can all work together to re-educate the consumer so they don’t always expect things to be on Sale,” she said.
This week, Verdict Research forecast clothing and footwear would see a 2.7% increase in consumer spend over the festive period, up £400m on last year to £14.9bn – outpacing the wider retail sector, which is expected to go up by 1%.
Verdict retail analyst Honor Westnedge said better-quality, more valuable purchases would drive this growth, suggesting premium brands and retailers would benefit.
However, Chanda Pandya, buying director at value retailer Select, argued the value sector would also grow over the festive period.
“At the end of the day, people have to buy presents for Christmas, even if they are feeling the pinch,” she said.