Independent retailers are hoping the warm Easter bank holiday weekend will provide a welcome boost to sales, following a slow start to the spring season as a result of cold weather and Brexit uncertainty.
Springboard predicts UK high street footfall could rise by 4.1% over the Easter bank holiday weekend, compared with 2018 when the “Beast from the East” encouraged consumers to stay at home.
The Met Office has forecast temperatures above 20C across most parts of the UK, which independents have told Drapers is the “best motivation for consumers to get out and go shopping”.
“With Easter falling later many local schools have been off for nearly the full month to date – this coupled with Brexit I believe has definitely affected sales”, Sarah Connelly, owner of lingerie independent Odyssey Boutique in Edinburgh, Scotland, said. “Footfall and sales are comparatively lower than previous years. Though with a fresh swimwear delivery just in I hope the predicted warm weather brings shoppers out over the holiday weekend.”
Robert McAllister, owner of Jacks Clothing in St Helier, Jersey, said: “Trade was flat during late February and March, due to a mix of Brexit uncertainty and the cool weather.
“Sales are strong for us at present and with spring arriving just in time for the late Easter we are hoping for a further boost in trade this weekend. We have already been reordering summer products that have had strong early sales on.”
Martin Brighty, managing director of menswear independent Peckham Rye in Carnaby, London, agreed: “We are hoping for a decent turn out this bank holiday weekend. The Carnaby Street area is always a great destination. The warm weather that is predicted will certainly help. Let’s face it, who likes going out in the rain?
“It’s better for Easter to fall in April, rather than straight after or on top of St. Patricks Day. One big event a month, rather than three in one go, is ideal for retail.”
He added: “Easter, regardless of Brexit, will be okay for everyone in the trade hopefully. I don’t think even Brexit gets in the way of public holidays.”
Meanwhile, several other independent retailers have already reported a surge in sales and footfall this spring. High street and retail park footfall increased by 2.5% and 1.5% respectively during March, Springboard reported.
Elisha Carter, co-founder and head of retail at clothing and lifestyle independent The Cherry Moon based on King’s Road in London’s Chelsea, said: “If the good weather in March was behind the surge in shoppers hitting the high street, then we should be in for a real scorcher this Easter weekend.
“With the mercury set to rocket to 24°C on Saturday, we are bracing for what could be our busiest weekend yet.”
Carter added: “The sunshine is possibly the best motivation to get out and go shopping. It also gives Britain the chance to take a well-earned break from the seemingly endless Brexit news cycle — especially now that the leave date has been delayed until autumn.”
Julia Jaconelli, owner of premium womenswear independent Courtyard in Guildford, Surrey, agreed: “The build-up to Easter has been incredibly busy with people buying outfits for holidays away, as well as those staying in England. We have sold so many dresses this season, as well as casualwear.
“I think the later date for Easter is good, as the weather is much more likely to be fine and warm as it is proving to be, which drives sales of summer stock.”
Gemma Holmes, owner of womenswear independent Odyl Boutique in Cranbrook, Kent, said: “We’ve had a great spring so far and with the weather improving for Easter I think we will have a very busy weekend, too.
“I’ve worked very hard to have a wide range of price points in the boutique, but customers are still buying premium collections with us, which is great news. I’ve been striving to give my customers a great offering and all feedback this season has been really positive. I think we all need to take our minds off the Brexit chaos. I strongly believe in this market and with the insecurity about Brexit that we are all having to work hard on every channel to drive business forward.”
Stella McGroarty, owner of women’s independent Stella in Donegal town, said: “We are all looking forward to Easter and the promised heat wave, not only from a business perspective but the sunshine lifts everyone’s mood.
“Business wise, it’s been slower to date than last year but that is probably due to Easter falling so late and of course our cross border trade is down because of Brexit.
“However, the pound has remained strong which should encourage a bit of a splurge over Easter and visitors are flooding in from other parts, so that combined with the beautiful sunshine and 20% Easter Sale will leave everybody happy.”