Bank holiday trading was as patchy as the weather, according to high street retailers and indies with autumn stock and online sales offering bright spots in an otherwise flat weekend.
According to the BDO High Street Sales Tracker overall fashion sales were down by 2.8% for the week to August 28, with clothing seeing a 3.9% fall but footwear reporting a 2.1% rise. It also reported that many stores were impact by lower footfall trends, particularly mainstream brands.
Ken Bartle, chairman of Jones Group, said: “Trade over the bank holiday was reasonable for us and nothing special. Kid’s footwear was still difficult but other than that it was ok.
“It tended to follow that where the weather was alright then trade was alright but where it poured with rain, trade was not so good.”
He added that the group had yet to benefit from back-to-school sales, with kids footwear being the only department not performing well. “I think it could be that the kids are not going back to school until next week so that will shift the key back-to-school trade to next weekend.”
Schuh managing director Colin Temple said overall trade “wasn’t too bad” and that he was currently “cautiously optimistic” about trading as autumn approaches. He added: “Our like-for-likes were ok but kid’s trade hasn’t been great for us for a while.”
He added that the south of the country had performed better for the chain although he attributed the variation to the economy rather than the mixed weather.
Pan Philippou, chief executive of menswear brand Ben Sherman, also reported a regional variation, with London its best performer. He said: “Anywhere beyond Watford is tough, but London is good, its resilient. But the market is tough. The disposable income just isn’t there.”
Autumn trends have continued to do well for retailers with Bartle reporting a good weekend on boots, and Hobbs chief executive Nicky Dulieu said that despite a year on year drop in footfall, those customers that did come in spent more on new season clothings.
She added: “Bank holiday was a bit of an interesting one for us and we saw a different type of trade to previous bank holiday weekends. Footfall was definitely down year-on-year but when people were coming in to store they tended to be spending more so overall our performance was flat.”
Ben Sherman said it also benefitted from both autumn stock sales, with plum-colour chinos currently its best seller, and a pay weekend. Chief executive Pan Philippou said: “It went pleasantly well. With the weather turning autumn stock is selling well.”
Meanwhile Hobbs also reported a significant increase in online trade, which Dulieu attributed to bargain hunters looking for the final summer bargains. She added that online trade for Saturday was up 100% on the same day last year.
Online sales were also a high point for York premium indie Sarah Coggle although, according to owner Mark Bage, sales were flat overall. He added: “The weather didn’t help much. There’s so much doom and gloom around.”
The New West End Company, were represents retailers in Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street, said sales in London’s West End were up 9.6% on the weekend before, which it attributed to back to school shoppers and tourists. However, it could not offer year-on-year figures.