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Autumn weather gives indies a boost

Independents across the UK have reported a surge in outwear sales thanks to chilly autumn weather.

Wind and rain throughout the UK in the first 10 days of October have encouraged customers to invest in warmer and waterproof clothing.

“It’s been a really strong start to the season,” said Deryane Tadd, owner of The Dressing Room in St Albans. “We’re up 25% on last year across the board, and performing well both in-store and online. Everyone is really getting into the winter spirit.”

John McAllan, co-owner of luxury highlandwear store McAllans, also found “heavier” items doing well at the start of the season.

“The cold weather has been good for business,” he said. “It doesn’t feel particularly busy for this time of year but, since we’ve been selling heavier items and have had a good conversion rate, that means you don’t necessarily have to be busy.”

Robert Watson, owner of Classic Urbanwear in Omagh, County Tyrone, said denim and women’s puffa jackets have sold particularly well, along with smart-casual wear: “Shirting is very strong – especially smart check prints – as are corduroy trousers, which is a new one for us.”

However, the wet weather has not been good news for everyone. “Here in Lancashire, people don’t come out when it’s pouring with rain – much of business is weather-dependent,” says Hilary Cookson, owner of Maureen Cookson.

“Customers travel a distance come to us, and we’re having trouble filling our 88-seat delicatessen. We’re currently 4% down on October last year, though we had a good September. We just need things to pick back up in time for Christmas.”

Mark Hickling, director of Mark Alexander Agency, said that while the start of the season has gone relatively well for some indies it has been slower for others – particularly as high street discounting has already begun.

“Certain groups are going into mid-season sales, which is particularly annoying for indies trading online,” he said. “When margins are reduced even further, that can be concerning as it devalues everything.”

“Christmas is something to look forward do, and indies will do well in the run up, but it’s discounting that’s damaging the market.”

 

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