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Autumn stock lifts spirits at womenswear independents

Womenswear independents are confident that the next few weeks' trading will make up for a poor summer, after encouraging early sales of autumn styles.

Retailers pegged knitwear, boots and winter coats as key items that would boost their sales in the run-up to Christmas.

George Georgious, owner of Unique Boutique in Southgate, north London, said a 25% drop in sales this month meant his autumn stock was put on the shop floor early. "This August was one of the slowest ever in my 25 years in the trade," he said. "But there has been a recovery and we expect knitwear to take off. We'll be catching up on lost sales till October, but by November we'll be fine."

Eileen Keh, brand manager at footwear retailer Beatrix Ong in Primrose Hill, north London, said the bad weather meant people were wearing closed-toe shoes and boots earlier, translating into higher-value sales.

Sarah Squire, owner of the Frock Shop in Lymington, Hampshire, said customers were eager to buy autumn stock, which has been out in her shop since August 5. "Day dresses that people can wear until October with a cardigan or boots are selling well. We're already reordering knitwear," she said.

Maggie Lawson-Groves, owner of Panache in Fareham, said August sales were down 20%. "I still have summer stock out until the autumn ranges arrives in September," she said. "But people say it's the end of summer and are waiting for autumn to spend."

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