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Easter trading hangs in the balance

Three weeks into March and spring 10 sales are still very much out in the cold.

Three weeks into March and spring 10 sales are still very much out in the cold. The high street is experiencing a generally poor month, yet indies are faring slightly better as their loyal customers with disposable cash complete their traditional start of the season shopping sprees.

Discounting has already begun. The king of the perennial markdown Gap was offering as much as 50% off this week and several Arcadia chains were also discounting. While there are rumours of some slight overstocks, the general consensus is that Sale activity is at a similar level to this time last year and that the Easter promotion equation had not yet come into play as Drapers went to press.

Should the weather warm up, shoppers may exercise some pent up demand over the extended bank holiday weekend, and the fact it falls just after pay day should help. But what a cold Easter could mean for the rest of the season is slightly alarming.

Meanwhile, British fashion lost another of its greats this week, with the sad passing of Joseph Ettedgui, inventor of the supremely cut trouser for women. He was a purveyor of a new era of classic, minimal sophisticated dressing and, of course, champion of young British design talent via his network of stores. His vision created wealth for both his stockists and himself.

In addition to possessing raw talent, a great eye and an innate understanding of the British customer, he was one of fashion’s great characters - rarely seen without his trademark cigar and its ash nonchalantly falling down the front of his suit. I was fortunate enough to meet him on several occasions and his charm, wit and work will be greatly missed.

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