Huge footfall drop over wedding weekend expected to be offset by rise in trading on occasionwear.
Retailers and brands have shrugged off poor footfall data recorded over the royal wedding weekend and said the occasion had provided a number of bright spots for future fashion trends.
Despite a 33% fall-off in footfall on the day of the wedding, and a 10.2% and 11.1% year-on-year drop on the Saturday and Sunday, according to Experian, retailers and brands were bullish about future sales opportunities.
BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker recorded an overall like-for-like decline in clothing sales of 3.3% for the week ended May 10. It said there were some hefty sales rises reported but the effective loss of Friday as a trading day had made it difficult for stores to make up lost ground.
Department store chain John Lewis told Drapers that sales of occasionwear rose 53% week on week in the seven days from Sunday April 24 to Saturday April 30.
One retailer dismissed suggestions the Saturday and Sunday had been lackluster. He said: “We had a super weekend. We are selling lots of dresses and prints. The afternoon [after the royal wedding] was busy. Saturday we were busy as well. The last two weeks together exceeded our expectations.”
Margaret McDonald, managing director of occasionwear specialist Coast, said Saturday had been a “really good day” for trade.
Irene Whittle, owner of occasionwear indie Irené of Broadstone, Dorset, said: “We’ve been really busy this weekend. I think all the fashions seen at the wedding will inspire people to buy new things for special occasions. I can see longer coat styles worn over dresses making a comeback.”
Occasionwear brands said they expected the royal wedding to boost sales in the future. Alex Bernstein, director of eveningwear and occasionwear brand Bernshaw, said he expected sales of the brand to increase by up to 50% and that brights, cowl necklines and lace would be the most commercial trends from those seen at the royal wedding.
George Hadji, founder of occasionwear brand Anoushka G, said: “We will be adding to our mother-of-the-bride range by reintroducing matching accessories to complete the look.”
Millinery is likely to be the biggest winner, with brands and indies alike saying they expect to sell more hats than fascinators.
Milliner Vivien Sheriff, whose hats were worn by 80 wedding guests, said: “We saw a lot of headpieces. These are not hats in the traditional sense but they are a lot more than a fascinator. It shows that people have moved away from tiny little fascinators and are getting much braver.”
Debenhams said it had been inundated with shoppers taking a lead from colours worn at the wedding.
Anyone under the age of 30 would undoubtedly cite Kate Moss as the UK’s biggest-ever style icon but the real owner of that mantle is undoubtedly the late Princess Diana. Lady Di is to Moss what The Beatles are to Oasis in fashion terms.
Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s Diana championed new trends, upped the glam factor and turned designers into celebrities, and her love of clothes got UK shoppers out of their fail-safe black, navy and beige acrylic standard issue into colour, prints, tailoring, foxy cocktail dresses and even exotic silhouettes from faraway shores. But more importantly she inspired ‘ordinary’ women over 25 to spend regularly and experimentally in boutiques.
Her impact on sales at indies was like nothing before or since.
Last week Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, showed signs she has the potential to fit into Diana’s glass-slipper fashion icon status with her beautiful Alexander McQueen bridal gown which put UK design firmly onto the world stage. She also took time to get papped shopping in the King’s Road and then wearing a Zara dress, which became an instant sell-out.
She has come in for much criticism from the fashion press who poo-poo her classic fail-safe taste and bouncy brunette hairdo. But the average British woman would kill to look like her and therefore will aspire to shop like her - mixing commercial pieces bought on the high street with those from upper-end boutiques.
Designers should therefore watch closely as she treads her first fashion steps as an official royal.
Jessica Brown, executive editor