Independent retailers across the UK and Ireland are pinning their hopes on a strong Easter to make up for a difficult trading period in the run-up to spring.
Indies Drapers spoke to this week were determined not to discount over Easter, despite the tough start to the year, as they anticipate the improving weather combined with an earlier Easter bank holiday weekend will increase footfall and boost sales.
This year’s Good Friday and Easter Monday fall on April 3 and 6 respectively, two weeks earlier than in 2014 and within a week of payday for many shoppers.
Ann Jordan, owner of premium womenswear store Please Don’t Tell, which has a store in Belfast and recently opened a second in Holywood, County Down, said: “It’s been quiet lately but brighter days, brighter evenings and the thought of going away get people in the mood to spend. People will be out shopping so there’s no need to eat into margin.”
Lauren Ferguson, owner of Drapers Independents Award-winning womenswear store Sisters Boutique in Falkirk, agreed: “It’s easy to sell £1 for 50p but we don’t feel pressure by the multiples to do that. We hold our own and stay full-price until the last weekend in July.”
However, she admitted the business could use a period of strong trading over Easter: “The first few months of the year have been diabolical and the weather is a worry because people aren’t in the mood to buy summer clothes when it’s raining outside.”
Early forecasts from the Met Office suggest the south of the UK will benefit from drier, brighter conditions over Easter, while strong winds and heavy rain are likely across northern parts of the UK and in Ireland.
John Walsh, owner of footwear store Walsh Brothers Shoes in Tralee, Kerry, said: “Easter always brings an uplift in sales, but this year the cold weather could dampen the effect. It has been sluggish so far this season, but we are upbeat that things will be better over the next couple of weeks.”
Some indies are planning in-store events to boost footfall throughout the two-week school holiday. Kidswear outlet store Pud will host events every day in each of its three shops in Doncaster and Nottingham, including Easter egg hunts and arts and crafts sessions.
Womenswear independent Pookie, which has two stores in north and south Yorkshire, is planning a seasonal window display. Owner Rose Horsfield said: “We always see an increase in footfall, but school holidays can have a negative impact on us because mums are out with the kids instead of shopping.”