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Comment: The perfect antidote to the post-Christmas blues

Kirsty McGregor

This Christmas was a tense affair for the fashion industry as retailers waited anxiously to see if consumers would defy the gloomy economic outlook and hit the shops. Happily, it seems I’m not the only one who overspent over the festive period. 

The initial trading updates from Next, John Lewis and Joules suggest retailers benefited from a last-minute pre-Christmas splurge, as well as the usual boost from the Boxing Day Sales.

Despite the British Retail Consortium declaring the “worst Christmas for 10 years”, anecdotally, many retailers – both multiples and independents – told us sales were better than expected in December.

It comes as a huge relief as we head into the new season, which kicked off this week with London Fashion Week Men’s and menswear trade show Pitti Uomo in Florence. Pitti’s popularity shows no signs of waning, as buyers from across Europe, Japan and the US flocked to its 95th edition. Read full coverage here and look out for the Drapers Menswear Issue next week.

I was in Exeter between Christmas and new year, and the shops were reassuringly busy. However, the sorry sight of the closing-down House of Fraser was a stark reminder of the mounting challenges retailers face, which this year include a credit insurance clampdown and the question of what to do with the surplus in bricks-and-mortar stores – not to mention the potential chaos surrounding Brexit.

At the start of 2019, Drapers speaks to fashion leaders across the industry to find out what they predict for the year ahead. Many talk about “uncertainty” and “unpredictability”, but there is also a strong note of stoicism. The message is clear: customers will become even more discerning, but if you buckle down, focus on understanding their needs and manage your costs, you can still thrive. 

It is useful advice for this year’s crop of 30 Under 30 rising stars of fashion retail. This is the 10th year Drapers has run the initiative, which recognises the impact young people are having across the industry, from buying and merchandising to tech specialists and intrepid entrepreneurs. Always one of my favourite features of the year, it is the perfect antidote to the post-Christmas blues.

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