Lingerie retailers were downbeat in the run-up to Valentine's Day. Of the independents polled for Drapers' Indicator this week, 36% said business last week was worse than the same time last year, with last year's trading not particularly strong either.
Some said the rise in online shopping was to blame, but few were trying to compete in terms of marketing. Most indies were planning a Valentine's Day window display, but hardly any had promotions or events in the works. Ann Wilkinson, owner of Saratoga in Oxford, said: "We are not doing as much marketing because it doesn't work."
With Valentine's Day this year falling on a Wednesday, indies said men would leave gift buying until lunch hour on Monday or Tuesday. This does not bode well for lingerie retailers, with men more likely to opt for quick-fix flowers and chocolates.
The retailers surveyed said few brands were offering special Valentine's Day product, although lacy sets were selling well. Retailers called on brands to offer more in-season buying options, again feeling the pressure from the flexibility that online retailers are given by suppliers in terms of replenishment.
One said: "The lingerie industry wants us to place orders months in advance, when it would be better to order goods during the season. The industry needs a shake-up."
Name your best-selling brand of the week
3. Marie Jo
6. Prima Donna
Name your best-selling style for the week
1. Bra and knicker sets
2. Balconette bra
3. Plunge bra
4. Full-cup bra
5. Strapless bra
Name your best-selling bra brand for the week
1. Marie Jo
What is the most expensive item you have sold in store this week?
£264 - La Perla bustier at Bodytalk in Harrogate, North Yorkshire
FASHION IN FIGURES
How does your week's business compare with this time last year?
30% - Better
34% - Same
Worse - 36%
LOVE IS IN THE AIR
What percentage of your January/February sales are generated by Valentine's Day gift buying? 11%
Which brand has produced the best Valentine's Day offer?
What Valentine's Day marketing will you do?
1. Window displays
3. Decorations in store
Are you offering a gift wrap service?
Yes - 88%
No - 12%
Which shows will you attend this season?
Harrogate - 68%
Intimate London - 4%
Other - 16%
None - 12%
What percentage of your spring 07 stock is taken by swimwear? 30%
Which swimwear brands have you bought into for the first time this spring?
1. Louis Feraud
2. Pain de Sucre
When will your full summer swimwear offer hit the shop floor?
Already on sale - 23%
End of February - 26%
End of March - 51%
Which lingerie brand offers the broadest range?
1. Marie Jo
Drapers spoke to 50 independents about their lingerie business for the week ending January 31.
Brands and styles appearing in the lists, including the Top 10 and Top 5, are ranked when mentioned by five or more retailers.