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Footwear retailers upbeat as trading picks up

Footwear retailers have said they are optimistic for autumn following an unexpected uplift in trading this season.

Multiples and independents reported that business had been buoyed by better weather and growing online sales. However, many went on to say that they are approaching the spring 18 buying season with caution.

The managing director of one footwear multiple said its kids’ offering was a standout performer this summer, but women’s footwear had struggled.

“We’re cautiously happy with trading over the last couple of months. We have been investing in kids’ footwear, which has been paying dividends. Our online business has also been particularly strong, as athleisure lends itself to online. Full-price volumes have been picking up, and we’re seeing growth.”

The boss at another footwear multiple said: “This spring has been a surprisingly good season for us with positive like-for-likes. It’s still challenging, but there are encouraging signs for the autumn. The cooler weather has kickstarted boot sales – at the expense of sandals – and casual looks are selling well.”

Stuart Conroy, owner at independent footwear retailer Shoetique, said sales are up for this spring, compared with 2016.

“Trade is good at the moment. We’re going into autumn in a good position. We’ve reduced costs where we can by shrinking the number of brands we have, but have increased our spending on our bestsellers’ ranges, and growing those. Meanwhile, we have brought in more trans-seasonal products such as athleisure, which we hope to sell through to October.”

Charles Clinkard, managing director at the eponymous independent retailer, said: “We’ve had a good start to the season and our online business has been growing.”

He added while he is “cautiously optimistic” for autumn 17, budgets will be kept flat as Brexit uncertainty continues.

“The industry’s biggest problem at the moment is that it’s getting more and more of the same. Everyone now has a version of an espadrille. It’s becoming more challenging not to duplicate what we’re buying.”

Dorian Holmes, owner of footwear independent Skintrade in Newport, Isle of Wight, agreed that there was “nothing new out there”.

While he has increased orders from his bestsellers, which include Converse, Havaianas and Birkenstocks, he is also trimming brands that are not performing as well.

He added: “Trading is like for like compared with last year as market uncertainty continues, and I think it will carry on at the same flat pace in the autumn. It will be interesting to see how the market will do, as prices continue to rise.”

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