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Contemporary womenswear

Short-order buying ups the ante as independents fight the high street

Contemporary womenswear indies polled for this week's Indicator reported a tough week, with more than half saying sales were down on the same time last year.

Dresses, tops and tunics performed well, but more than two thirds said they had not bought into maxi dress styles. Many retailers felt that the look was too directional for their audience. Ann Morris, owner of Boho of Stow in Lewes, East Sussex, said: "We cater for the 35-plus age group, so maxi dresses are too high fashion for our customers."

Despite not picking up more broadly on the maxi trend, retailers said they were using short-order buying to refresh their offer, with an average 9% of spring buying budgets held back for short-order purchases, up 5% year on year. Retailers said a quarter of the brands they stock offered short-order options, reflecting the growing trend for in-season buying

Jason Alam, manager of Chadz in Ilford, Essex, said short-order buying helped indies to compete with the high street. "With the trends changing all the time, we have to buy short-order to keep customers happy, otherwise they go to our high street rivals," he said. "It also keeps the store looking fresh."

TOP 10

Name your best-selling brand of the week

1. Noa Noa

2. Sandwich

3. Great Plains

4. Fransa

5. Nougat

6. Olsen

7. Oui Set

8. Out of Exile

9. Ichi

10. Adini

TOP 5

Name your best-selling style of the week

1. Dresses

2. Tops

3. Tunics

4. Trousers

5. Jackets

TOP 5

Name your best-selling tops brand of the week

1. Noa Noa

2. Sandwich

3. Oui Set

4. Fransa

5. B Young

What is the most expensive item you have sold in store this week?

£700 - Paule Vasseur suit at Wardrobe in Marlborough, Wiltshire

FASHION IN FIGURES

How does your week's business compare with this time last year?

27% Better

19% Same

54% Worse

SHORT ORDER

Which short-order collection have you bought most from this season?

1. Great Plains

2. Sandwich

3. B Young

4. InWear

5. Ichi

What percentage of the brands you stock offer short-order options?

36%

What percentage of your spring 07 budget is reserved for short-order purchases?

9%

By how much has this increased compared with the same time last year?

5%

QUICKFIRE QUESTIONS

Are you selling tailored shorts this season?

Yes 37%

No 63%

How many international trade shows are you planning to visit this season compared with last year?

More 2%

Less 18%

Same 80%

None 0%

Which trade shows are you planning to visit?

Pure 87%

Moda UK 30%

Bread & Butter 10%

Pret a Porter 10%

Top Drawer 7%

CPH Vision 3%

On average, by what percentage has the volume of jeans in your shop increased year on year?

7%

Which colours dominate your summer stock?

1. White

2. Blue

3. Yellow

4. Green

5. Pink

Drapers spoke to 50 independents about their contemporary womenswear business for the week ending June 2.

Brands and styles appearing in the lists, including the Top 10 and Top 5, are ranked when mentioned by five or more retailers.

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