Last year was our 20th in business, and we had a great year, writes Tim Hobden, director of Landmark Clothing in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. Until Black Friday that is, which set the tone for the remainder of the festive period, teaching the consumer to expect a discount.
We held out, as always, until December 28 for our Sale. But we saw sales drop by 22% in the four weeks to Christmas, having been cumulatively 24% up on last year for August to November.
Why do big retailers and brands feel the need to give away margin in the one month of the year that the consumer is compelled to purchase gifts before Christmas and retailers have the upper hand? If they held their nerve, they could charge full price all the way to December 24.
December used to represent one-fifth of most retailers’ annual turnover. It was the month you made profit, hence one theory of the name Black Friday – from the end of November retailers got out of the red.
At Landmark we don’t carry any big-name brands in an effort to distance ourselves from the high street and be as independent as we can. But if every shop, website and advert screams “discount” at the public, it makes our job of maintaining full margin in December nigh on impossible.
I have cut my open-to-buy for autumn 16 by more than 30% to represent this shift in the December retail landscape, which affects all of my suppliers. I will also be cutting Christmas staffing numbers next December.
Surely it is time for government intervention on discounting legislation and a rethink by the industry in a bid to level the playing field?