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Large forward orders are no longer relevant for me

Adele Crombie, Owner of contemporary womenswear indie ALC in Edinburgh.

As a new business, buying the ‘right’ stock at the ‘right’ time is a daunting task. Without knowing who the shop’s customers will be, style, sizing and availability are the basic variables that can affect success or failure. The unpredictable weather and the erratic Sale periods make the market ever more difficult to predict.

Although this is my store’s first spring, it’s clear many businesses are struggling, as demonstrated by bulging discount rails. Customers have said how good this year’s Sales are; the Sales started early while summer arrived far too late.

With the spring 14 buying period already underway, these issues with timing will be at the forefront of my mind when I visit the trade shows and I’ll be looking for brands that offer larger collections with fewer minimums, and wearable trend-led items that easily transcend the seasons. Large forward orders confirmed and committed to six months or more in advance are no longer relevant, presenting too high a risk on margin retention.

I’ll be holding back a substantial in-season buying budget so I can be responsive. It will be interesting to see the brands that are adapting to this strategy and, from that, what trends have emerged for the coming season.

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