Sales have wilted in the warm September weather, prompting retailers to launch discounts of up to 50% off new season stock.
Higher-than-usual September temperatures have wreaked havoc on the launch of autumn products in store and online.
Several high street retailers rolled out deep discounts just weeks after the first drop of new season stock.
Over the past week, Monsoon, New Look, H&M, Missguided, Marks & Spencer, Warehouse, Oasis, Dune and Office have offered up to 50% off new-season styles.
Karen Millen launched a mid-season Sale. Asos, River Island, Ted Baker and Jones Bootmaker were also offering promotions. Amazon Fashion launched a 20% off flash Sale for new customers on Monday.
In department stores, Debenhams ran a 25% Sale across all product categories last weekend, while House of Fraser slashed brands by 50%. John Lewis upheld its price match promise.
The managing director of one menswear retailer said a drop in footfall had caused retailers to launch Sales earlier in the season.
“Retail has been very tough for the last couple of weeks,” he told Drapers. “It’s the lack of people out spending on the high street. Online is fine, but numbers are down in the main shopping centres.”
Last week, Bonmarché issued a profit warning for the second quarter of this year, blaming “extremely poor” trading as a result of unseasonably warm weather and a challenging womenswear market.
Full-year profit before tax is now expected to fall to between £5m and £7m compared with the market consensus for this year’s profit before tax which was previously £11.8m.
Elizabetta Camilleri, chief executive of Shopological (formerly SalesGossip), said deliveries are out of sync with the weather. “We’re seeing a big surge in the number of promotions as we head into the pay day weekend and we’re seeing much deeper discounts; up to 50% rather than the 20% or 30% we saw this time last year, as retailers are sitting on extra stock.
“Most [retailers] brought their autumn stock into stores in early August when it was 30 degrees outside. The in-store delivery system needs to be fixed, but until that happens we will continue to see this promotional reaction.”
One agent for young fashion brands said trade had been “rubbish” so far this month: “It’s very tough out there. Everyone is still sitting on autumn stock and they are getting nervous. Then you have the big etailers like Amazon and Zalando, who are known for discounting, ramping up their fashion advertising. Retailers are worried.”
The chief executive of one womenswear multiple said: “It has obviously been a tough September, but its getting colder this week at last. It will be interesting to see how the customer responds [to the discounting] so early in the season.”
Independent retail analyst Richard Hyman said discounting so far this month has been “appalling”. He explained: “Promotions were actually trending down in the first half of the month, albeit from a very high base, but the second half has seen them climbing again – currently up to 50% off full price.
“Those recent trading updates from John Lewis, Next and River Island were massively significant. If three of our very best retailers are struggling, the lesser players must be really suffering.”