Between the office Christmas party, the Drapers Awards and a winter wedding, I've actually had several good, valid reasons to invest in dresses this year. The high street has certainly lived up to my expectations, but it seems that the retailers themselves haven't had as much festive fun.
If you're a shopper who loves party dresses, you really had your pick of the bunch this winter. Personally, I thought most high street retailers had a great offer. I could have bought at least three dresses from Warehouse, which made good use of this season's purple. I tried to buy one from Oasis but thanks to Grazia's endorsement it kept selling out every day. Ted Baker had pretty, girly options, while French Connection's more classic and less dressy collections could easily be glammed up with a chunky belt and heels.
As well as great product, what made my shopping experience more pleasureable was the lack of shoppers inside the shops. I went to Oxford Street in London last Thursday, arriving about 11am and shopping until 6pm, and while the streets themselves were busy, the shops were bizarrely empty. No waiting for a changing room, no queues at the checkouts. So were people merely window shopping?
As far as partywear is concerned, it may be so. The chief executive of one high street multiple said party dresses were not selling well and warned retailers that they would be left with a lot of stock if they had bought heavily into the category. Another retail director said she had deliberately bought less partywear this season.
So it seems that in these tough times, it takes more than great product to entice customers to part with their cash.