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Footwear indies tighten budgets for autumn 20

Independent footwear retailers are feeling cautious and have reined in their spending for autumn 20 as a result of tough trading.

Retailers have told Drapers they have tightened their budgets ahead of key exhibitions Micam in Milan (16-19 February), Moda in Birmingham (23-25 February) and Sole Fashion in Coventry (16-17 February). 

Gary Bates, buying manager at footwear indie Hobson Shoes in Bawtry and Newark, who is attending Sole Fashion this week, said the current retail environment has had an impact on the way he spends: “At one time, I would throw a bit of caution to the wind. But now, I do like to try something new, but I am cautious. You have to be.

“We’ve tried in-season buying – the idea behind it is great – no forward commitment and you can react quickly. The problem with that is you’ll go to the supplier and you’ll think oh I’ll buy X item, and someone has beaten you to it or they didn’t have it in the first place.”

Charles Clinkard, managing director of footwear retailer Charles Clinkard, agreed that buyers and suppliers are being more cautious this season.

He said: “Most people are being cautious due to the various problems around Brexit, coronavirus and general economic uncertainty. My overall impression is everyone is playing it very safe and we are seeing very similar looks from a lot of our suppliers. Our expectations are that sales will be fairly flat with a mix of 43% shoes to 57% boots. As far as buying, we are looking at 80% forward buy leaving 20% for in season.”

Another footwear retailer buyer said he was not attending the upcoming trade shows, as he is going direct to suppliers: “We’ve maybe played it a bit safe, but in the current climate, it’s necessary. Our budgets have maintained the same as last year because we’ve consolidated our brand list.

“We’ve dropped a few and added a few. We’ve got a few more buys to do next week and there’s a couple of brands we’re still in negotiations with, but other than that we’re pretty much done.”

One footwear retailer going to Micam this week said coronavirus was a major concern heading to the show.

“Although I always look forward to Micam, I have a feeling the show will be quieter than normal. Things are tough as it is, but now with the coronavirus, I expect this will have an impact too. Sadly, I don’t expect to see any Chinese buyers or manufacturers there.

“I’m cutting down on my shoe budget. As customer buying habits change, the shop is evolving too to offer more lifestyle.”

It comes after some independents were unable to attend trade shows Pure and Scoop in London last week, as a result of train delays and cancellations stemming from Storm Ciara.

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