Several high street multiples have brought forward their summer Sales, and are blaming poor weather and tough year-on-year comparisons for discounts of up to 50%.
Phase Eight, Hobbs, New Look, John Lewis and Matchesfashion are currently offering up to 50% discounts. Marks & Spencer, Fat Face and White Stuff are among those resisting the temptation of the premature promotions.
“We’re not expecting to do as well this year,” said Oliver Tress, chief executive of lifestyle brand Oliver Bonas. “Last year we had a very hot May, which we didn’t get this year.”
One womenswear executive agreed: “We have entered our main Sale a week earlier than last year. May last year was a record month because of the long winter and pent-up shopping.”
Another high street retailer agreed that lethargic sales were resulting in early discounting: “We have seen some brands in our peer group pull their Sales forward. This is largely because it has been a relatively slow spring in comparison with last year, and certain brands are tweaking markdown plans to reflect it.”
However, one footwear executive blamed a domino effect for the discounting across the sector: “It is very reliant on your competition. If somebody breaks ranks early, then they capture that spend and you have to drop prices to compete.”
He added: “Seasonal stock is not churning at the rate we’d like it to, and we don’t want to carry it into autumn – the reality is once you get into the second week of July, that’s pretty much your whole season over. We have entered Sale in the same period as we did last year, but have increased our markdowns.”