Until April 12 it is impossible to judge just how bad, or indeed good, trade is against last year. Snow storms versus last Easter's heatwave, a spread of different school holiday dates around the country, and the earliest Easter for 90 years are all causing chaos at head office and sending footfall down 19.4% against Easter 2007. The fact last Easter fell just after pay day, while this year it came towards the end of the month has added to uncertainty about spending patterns and just how much the economic woes are affecting shopping habits. April 12 will mark the day when retailers can draw a decent comparison between 2007 and 2008 performance.
Traditionally, Easter gives buyers a great read on spring wins, helping them to make educated decisions about levels of repeats on early best sellers but buyers are in the dark as to how much genuine demand is left in the market and April looks set to be a horrific month with nothing to lure shoppers onto the high street.
I suspect the Sale banners, timed to coincide with Easter, will be splashed across windows for some time yet. The market is awash with rumours about which multiples have stock problems and horror stories about container loads of goods being held at ports, while this weeks' rent day brought with it rumours of those on the brink and those who face an emergency refinancing.
Most of the high street are banking on a hot summer set against the soft comparatives of last year to see them through the rest of the season. The Met Office has not yet issued its forecast beyond May, but is predicting a colder than average spring with average rainfall.
Whatever the weather, it's the variables which make retailing one of the most exciting sectors to be a part of.
To read more about trading at both multiple and independent retailers last weekend click here.