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Bumper prospects for bank holiday trading

Retailers are banking on the late Easter, better weather and improved consumer sentiment to boost trade over the long bank holiday weekend, with department stores and etailers tipped to be the big winners.

Data exclusively shared with Drapers by retail research firm Springboard suggests retailers could be in for a bumper few days, with high streets forecast to see the most consistent increases – up 8% on Good Friday compared with last year, 6% on Saturday and 9% on Easter Monday.

Out-of-town retail parks will see footfall rise 9.5%, 7% and 3.5% respectively. Shopping centres are expected to see more muted growth, although still up 3%, 3.5% and 4% over the weekend.  

Springboard’s retail insights director Diane Wehrle explained: “Spring is in the air and that always brings a change in attitude to buying clothes. When you have a four-day break like this, people will do their household stuff first, and if it’s still nice they will go and spend on themselves – that translates positively for fashion.”

She tipped department stores as benefiting the most because of the wide choice of categories on offer, as well as their urban locations. Etailers are also expected to cash in, even if the weather was nice, Wehrle added.

“They will be the winners of the weekend,” she said. 

Retailers were similarly enthusiastic about their prospects. Colin Temple, chief executive of Schuh, said: “With Easter being a bit later this year we hopefully stand a better chance [than last}, with some good weather to help encourage our customers into our seasonal product.”

David Moss, director of Mayfair menswear store Richard Gelding, added: “We’re expecting a good Easter as the weather has improved. Last year it was cold so the spring sunshine has been a major benefit for us.”

Cath Kidston marketing director Sue Chidler said it was hoping for “two bites of the cherry like a department store”, with people buying holiday items before the break or shopping during the weekend itself.

Deirdre Devaney, director of fashion and beauty at Dublin department store Arnotts, said the late Easter meant the team knew what lines to back. “We now have a good feel for what is working across all product categories so we can really give people a reason to purchase. It’s about getting the right product in at the right time.”

David Elliot, managing director of Jersey department store Voisins, was also positive: “Easter falling later means the weather is better and so it’s all about fashion – the windows are full of fashion. This year there is a lot of emphasis on yellow – there are yellow dresses everywhere, and to a lesser extent green – both of which feel spring-like, so we will promote that in store.

“It’s a time when people want to buy new for spring and summer. I’ve always thought Easter was the real launch of late spring and early summer.”

While most businesses were hoping to have a full-price Easter, Debenhams is planning to launch its Blue Cross Sale shortly before the bank holiday weekend, with discounts of up to 70%.

A Debenhams spokeswoman declined to comment.

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