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Indie sales squeezed as young men tighten belts

The independent contemporary menswear market is being hampered by cautious younger shoppers cutting back on spending.

While older shoppers who are in a more stable financial position are still buying, younger customers are more focused on paying off debts, according to contemporary menswear indies polled by Drapers.

Trade for many retailers had picked up over recent weeks, with April reported to be a particularly good month. However, May has proven more difficult for many, with 46% of the indies contacted by Drapers saying trade was worse than at the same time last year.

Simon Newland, manager of Chadds in Norwich, which stocks Gant and Brook Taverner, said: “We’re not seeing as many younger people. I think they are cutting back on spending. The older guys are spending OK but I think they may be in the position of not having a mortgage.”

Colin Bell, owner of Colin Bell in Stamford, Lincolnshire, which sells brands including Tommy Hilfiger and Camel Active, said his older customers were also driving trade. “I’m not seeing much effect from the recession due to my customers being older and in a more stable position financially,” he said.

According to Drapers’ Indicator survey this week, brightly coloured shirts and those with bold prints were proving popular with male shoppers.

Jason Shiller, owner of Earls in Barnstaple, Devon, which sells Polo Ralph Lauren and Gant, added: “Our customers are spending but they are not coming in as often. I bought into bolder styles and they have garnered more interest. Men want something different and the brighter styles are lifting spirits.”

Stuart Hurst, owner of Charles Stuart in Lytham, Lancashire, added: “We’re doing well with [menswear brand] Robert Graham, as it is quirky.”

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