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Bank holiday disappoints high street

Bank holiday sales in the UK were hit by a combination of poor weather, the credit crunch and the Olympics last weekend.

Most high street retailers that Drapers spoke to said the bank holiday weekend was a disappointment as shoppers stayed away, with Saturday in particular proving a let down.
The boss of one womenswear chain said: "The weekend wasn’t spectacular and there was an Olympic hangover. We had one OK day, but in general trade was disappointing."

The head of one value chain added that footfall was down compared with the same time last year. "The weather was appalling during the bank holiday weekend, so sales were flat," he said. "Our new autumn ranges sold well, but we struggled to shift summer stock. Trade picked up from Sunday though."

The director of another value business said it was benefiting from the credit crunch, with like-for-like sales up by single digits over the weekend. "The more the recession bites, the better our performance is," he said.

However, Several retailers said that the lack of disposable income among consumers was proving a challenge.

One young fashion chain's director said that customers were unwilling to spend any money over the three-day break. "It is the low volume of people shopping that is the problem," he said. "The lack of disposable income is a big issue. There is some appetite for spending judging by the Sales, but people are holding back. However, next weekend is the last weekend before the schools go back and it’s a pay weekend."

Department stores fared a bit better and John Lewis was more upbeat than most. The company’s fashion buying director Peter Ruis said that although the Olympics had kept shoppers away, footfall on Sunday and Monday improved dramatically. "We were up by double digits on both days compared with last year," he said.

However, he added: "Last year the weather was better so more people were away on holiday. We tend to benefit if the weather is not that good."

"Christmas is an unknown. It remains to be seen whether or not shoppers will decide to economise."

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