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Editor's Comment: Consumer spend is up, but we still need answers

When the European Union referendum result was announced in June, shock reverberated around the fashion industry. There were, and still are, so many important and unanswered questions about what this will mean for businesses of all sizes.

One of the biggest concerns has been the impact the vote could have on consumer confidence. However, BRC-KPMG data published this week shows consumer spend rose in July. This echoes what some retailers have told us: that while immediately after the result was announced trade was slow, this situation only lasted a few days and consumers soon returned.

Online sales also continue their onwards march, the BRC-KPMG figures show. Boohoo’s trading update confirms this: the young fashion etailer expects sales growth for 2016 in the region of 28% to 33% (previous guidance was 25% to 30%). There are certainly no signs of a Brexit-related fears among its customers.

A very different business, upmarket maternitywear specialist Seraphine, also released a positive set of results this week. Sales climbed to £14m for the year to 31 March 2015, from £3.5m the year before.

They may be different, but Boohoo and Seraphine have at least one thing in common: they know their customer. They understand their customers’ unique needs – whether it is a well-fitted dress for a pregnant woman whose body is changing day by day, or a party dress to be worn the next day. Both have a clear brand and proposition. That is what will help consumer confidence in the long run.

Retailers must make sure they are set up to face any challenges.

Although it is, of course, good news that consumers are still spending money, there is a lot of economic and political change ahead. Retailers must make sure they are set up to face any challenges.

On Friday, Drapers will launch a nationwide survey to determine what the fashion industry needs from the Brexit negotiations in order to thrive outside the protection – or restrictions – of the EU. Look out for it on drapersonline.com and in our daily and weekly newsletters, for which you can sign up here. We’d love to hear your views.

Drapers will present the survey findings to government, to ensure our industry’s views are heard at this crucial time in the UK’s history.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • A savvy analyst would suggest Boohoo has stolen share from the likes of New Look, as opposed to anything to do with Brexit. Spend being up in July has been pushed by discounting (clothes bought at 'pre-vote' exchange rates). Interest rates remain low, so for those fortunate to be in work, disposable income is high. Lower fuel prices has also helped.

    Prediction is.... there's a lot more Boohoo to come.

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