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Editor's Comment: A year of change is drawing to a close

2017 has been an eventful year to say the least, for Drapers as well as the wider fashion retail industry.

This year, we celebrated our 130th anniversary. We produced a beautiful limited edition coffee table-style book that looked back at how the industry has changed over that time, as well as looking forward to what the future might bring. It was a pleasure to take a step back and look at the evolution of this remarkable sector. If you haven’t seen it, there is still an opportunity to buy a copy here.

Looking back is something we all do as the year draws to an end. Fashion retailers have certainly faced a mix of opportunities and challenges in 2017, including the continued weakness of sterling, falling consumer confidence and various technological advances. Our annual Top 100 list of the most influential people in the industry is a useful reflection on how business leaders have coped with these changes throughout the year – stay tuned for the full list on Friday.

Before the new year is upon us, retailers must overcome the final hurdle of Christmas trading. Although many retailers have said they expect trading to be marginally up on last year, shopping patterns have changed and are increasingly hard to predict.

The cold weather should help to drive sales of heavier outerwear, knitwear and footwear. However, more retailers took part in Black Friday this year, and consumers have learned to expect discounts from the end of November, through December and into January. Will there still be a rush to pick up bargains in the Boxing Day Sales? And to what extent will the extended discounting period hit profit margins? 

These are big questions, and I suspect we’ll be mulling them over for months to come. Interestingly, many of them are the same challenges that retailers have been battling over the past 130 years – the evolution in trading patterns, the debate about when to go on Sale, changing consumer behaviours and, of course, the all-important British weather.

I wish you all a successful last few weeks of the year and look forward to seeing you in 2018.

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