Independent fashion retailers had to “work harder for their money” in 2015 as unseasonable weather, discounting and the rise of ecommerce shaped the face of trade.
Reflecting on the past 12 months, small firms across the UK told Drapers they felt they had to do more to entice spend during the year, but effort paid off with record sales.
Chris O’Dea, owner of premium Merseyside independent OD’s said the business was “motoring ahead” but faced the challenge of competing with heavy discounters while still turning a profit.
“Looking back it’s clear you have to work harder for your money, there’s no more just putting product on a shelf and it sells,” he said.
“There is a lot of discounting going on out there, but we hold strong and only have two full Sales a year. You still need to entice shoppers in with little offers, it’s just about trying to do it in a way that delivers margin.”
James Jones, director of premium independent Robinson’s of Bawtry, said the Doncaster-based retailer has had its best year to date.
“We’re up 20% in the last quarter and up 15% for the year as a whole. I think things are picking up across the board for everyone but it’s definitely not just a case of opening the doors and waiting for sales, you have got to go out and get them.
“Getting people in the shop doesn’t just have to be through discounting either, we increased our marketing spend and put on a whole range of events and other promotions.
“You get a mixed bag when you ask others indies how things are but generally the ones doing well are being proactive.”
Matt Horstead, owner of menswear independent Dartagnan in Chichester, West Sussex, said high levels of uncertainty have made trading “impossible to plan for.”
“There were no patterns this year like in previous years,” he said. “It was all individual freak days, weeks and months of good sales and then odd slow periods. The unseasonable weather was ridiculous, it was cold until April, we had a rubbish high summer, and now in December we’ve got 15 degree temperatures.
“May was astonishingly good and that’s the one month that’s going to put us on a plus for the year. People seem to have more money in their pockets and all we can do is work hard to have the right offer to entice it out of them.”