Footwear multiples and brands are upbeat about the current spring 19 season, but remain “cautiously optimistic” about the year ahead amid Brexit uncertainty and tough market conditions on the high street.
“Like most retailers, we are optimistic at the start of a new season,” the managing director of one leading footwear multiple said. “A later Easter was in our favour, and the weather really did help. The discounting got the customers into the store and they converted well on both Sale and full-price product.
“Thankfully Brexit has been kicked down the road, giving a temporary sense of certainty. However, still being overshadowed by Brexit and the possible economic woes it could bring does make us at best cautiously optimistic on trade this year. The high street is still troubled, and the internet is more consistent, so we are going to have to fight the competition hard for every sale this year.”
Tony Evans, managing director of footwear group Jacobson, agreed: “Overall, there are some positive signs for this season.
“The feedback I’ve had is that retailers seem to be doing well online and offline. We’ve also received a number of repeat orders from the weekend – the weather has certainly given us a boost. Gola and Lotus have had the best results [of Jacobson’s brands] so far, and it seems that sandals and canvas shoes are selling well.
“People are slowly starting to spend money as we get into the season. It’s been a slow start, but retailers are up against soft figures from last year as the weather was atrocious. If we could get a sustained period of good weather this season it will allow retailers to sell in the prime selling period without having to discount too much.”
Charles Clinkard, managing director of retailer Charles Clinkard, agreed: “With the Beast from the East hitting this time last year, the figures won’t be particularly challenging to beat. Trade has picked up with the weather changing this weekend. However, there is a lack of consumer confidence because of Brexit and customers are now buying one pair of shoes, instead of multiple pairs.”
Several brands are positive that they will continue to grow over the next year, despite a tough trading climate.
Claire Burrows, founder of footwear brand Air & Grace, said: “We remain incredibly optimistic. We are trading at 100% up year on year and have no reason to expect this to change.
“For Q1, we brought in higher than usual stock levels to safeguard us against any European import delays in the event of a no-deal Brexit. It’s actually worked in our favour as we’ve sold higher volumes by having more stock available. Some styles are already low on stock and selling on pre-order in advance of receiving repeats.”
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