The number of high street multiples and etailers on Sale this week was double that of last year, sparking fresh concern about the growing tendency to panic-discount in the face of unseasonably cool weather.
Of the 1,300 UK fashion multiples and etailers on digital marketing platform SalesGossip’s database, 23% were on Sale this week – up from 12% last year – as mid-season Sales were extended in an attempt to shift lightweight summer stock.
House of Fraser’s Brand Event was originally scheduled to be a two-day affair on May 28 and 29 but was expanded over the weekend and followed this week by a 30% off summer essentials promotion. The Brand Event was price-matched by John Lewis.
Arcadia-owned Dorothy Perkins extended its 30% off mid-season fashion event by one day until Tuesday (June 2) and is now offering 30% off dresses.
Meanwhile, Debenhams launched its Summer Holiday Spectacular on Tuesday, offering up to 25% off every department – just a week after its May bank holiday Sale ended. This is also being price-matched by John Lewis.
Elizabetta Camilleri, chief executive of SalesGossip, said: “Retailers launched specific promotions for the bank holiday weekend (May 23-25), which were then extended or replaced with additional promotions, which in many cases are still going on.
“As a result, most of these Sales are short-term promotions on limited stock to target specific customers rather than full end-of-season Sales.”
Peter Ruis, chief executive of Jigsaw, which is not running a mid-season Sale, said the cold weather may have caused some panic among retailers but it was a discount culture driving the price cutting.
He added: “The discounting just feeds its own customer journey; whatever the weather and whatever the economy, that is now what the consumer expects from those brands, so they will only shop when they receive that discount.”
The wholesale manager of one menswear brand stocked in several department stores said: “We have gotten so used to it at this stage. They panic when stock hasn’t sold, so they discount to get rid of it. If they hold off on kneejerk reactions it will get warmer sooner or later.”
Independent retailers also lashed out at the discounting culture, as it hits smaller businesses’ sales.
Darren Hoggett, co-owner of independent J&B Menswear in Norwich, said: “The multiples are obsessed with market share over profit. All they are doing is throwing margin away.
“The two main seasons – January to June and July to December – are so far out of sync with reality that it is a system destined to fail.
“Unsurprisingly, stores don’t sell enough products, meaning they have to go on Sale around the time when customers are ready to buy those particular items.”
However, some multiples resisted the temptation to discount. One chief executive of a large high street chain said it didn’t need to discount in season as it has invested in transeasonal pieces that can be layered.
He added: “People are complaining that the bad weather has resulted in sales not being where they should be, but we are never guaranteed a super-hot summer.”
Marks & Spencer had a Five Days of Summer event from Wednesday May 27 until Sunday May 31 where it offered exclusive limited edition products each day and a free beauty box worth £80 when shoppers spent £60 on fashion.