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Early Sales ruin indies’ summer

Department stores are set to deal a killer blow to independent retailers this summer as they count down to start Sales in less than a fortnight.

Debenhams will kick off the summer Sale bonanza on June 17 – earlier than planned – with markdowns of up to 50%. This is likely to force key concessionaires into full discounting at their high street stores.

Suppliers told Drapers that other department stores were changing Sale plans almost daily as they jostle to tempt hard-up shoppers and deal with erratic weather patterns, but most are expected to slash prices from June 19 onwards.

Hugo Boss, a key brand for indies, will also put its stand-alone stores on Sale on June 19.

House of Fraser and Marks & Spencer have already been engaging in stealth discounting with various mega days, in-store offers and online promotions over the past fortnight. John Lewis has been price matching markdowns on its brands.

Independents told Drapers they were just keeping their heads above water and that early high street discounting would spell the end of any chance of a summer recovery. Most said they would be forced to match the big chains’ discounts.

One independent said: “House of Fraser’s mega day last weekend and the weekend before hit us big time. We’re only just coming into summer and that is a real chance for indies to sell their summer stock at full margin. It’s alright for department stores, which can make margin up via own label.”

One premium menswear supplier said: “Indies are very nervous as they feel summer is still to come. This is a kick they don’t need.”

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