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Christmas comes but once a year – and it’s only 11 weeks away

A quick look at my diary on Wednesday confirmed we have just 11 weeks until Christmas Eve. Isn’t that lovely?

The countdown has definitely begun and one of the many issues for retailers, etailers and their suppliers to consider is how the calendar this year will affect trading patterns.

Christmas Day is on a Thursday, a situation that one of my retail chums decided was a disaster. “Everyone will start their holiday on Friday December 19, do their shopping at the weekend, and we won’t see anyone on Monday to Wednesday,” he claimed. Others, however, have taken a more positive view and see that those three weekdays before December 25 will give Mr & Mrs Consumer plenty of opportunity to enjoy a spate of retailing. Or etailing, as we can safely bet that online sales will continue their steady rise.

My contacts in the ecomm arena suggest December 19 will be the busiest day for online ordering, giving etailers and the nation’s couriers five days to deliver many millions of parcels. Those traders who have been wishing for worse weather just recently will no doubt be wishing for clement conditions during these crucial few days.

Retailers large and small will have to work out staffing rotas for this tricky period, an annual problem made more complicated these days among the big guys by the preponderance of click-and-collect.

I wonder if any store is going to end up with more people on the C&C desk than on the nearby shop floor. As always, we would be fascinated to hear what your own expectations are for the Christmas trading period and how you are preparing for it.

There is no doubt the abrupt end to the Indian summer has been universally welcomed by retailers who were fed up with looking at rails of coats and knitwear and racks of boots. With less than three months to go until Santa’s arrival, the wish will be for colder, ideally not too wet, weather.

It is encouraging to read our news report this week about a generally positive attitude coming from the independents we have spoken to. Despite the challenges of the recent warm weather, there seems to be a collective wish to move forward, selling at full price rather than getting the Sale posters out for every slow week. The climate is going to play a vital role in pricing across every high street and every fashion site. My fear is that a spell of unseasonal weather will stall sales with the inevitable result that traders will start price promotions. As we have seen in previous Christmas seasons, that is a slippery slope to margin madness. Avoid at all costs.

Looking beyond Christmas, in our January 10 issue, the first of 2015, we will be listing our annual 30 Under 30 of ones to watch. We are now looking for nominations of any high-flyers who will be aged 30 or under by January 10. These can be from any segment of the UK and Irish fashion industry - retail, manufacturing, design, supply, etail, marketing etc. If you want to nominate someone in your company, please email the address below with their name, job title, date of birth and a short explanation on why they should be featured in this prestigious list, now in its sixth year. Self-nominations are welcome.

The lucky 30 will also be invited to a dinner and join almost 300 others at our annual Next Generation day - on April 16 next year - when first-, second- and third-jobbers in the industry will learn from some of the biggest names in the sector on how to progress their careers. We look forward to hearing from you.

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