Multiples have reported a mixed early reaction to autumn product, as the debate over whether the industry is out of sync with shoppers continues.
Retailers including Marks & Spencer and Next brought in the first instalments of autumn product last week, Drapers understands. At the same time, temperatures soared to between 28°C and 35°C across the UK.
Some sources indicated that the initial uptake of new collections has been poor, as it has been introduced too early in the season.
“A lot of businesses are struggling,” said one womenswear supplier to large high street multiples. “They brought heavy autumn stock in during a heatwave. They should have learned from last year – transitional product is the only way forward.”
She added: “August will be quiet on the high street as people are away on holidays, so it will be September before sales kick in. They have stock in too early. People buy now to wear now, but the guys at the top won’t listen. It’s an issue that needs serious attention.”
FatFace is still trading summer stock at full price and will not have its end of season Sale for another three weeks, before delivering autumn stock at the end of August, chief executive Anthony Thompson told Drapers: “We wait until the end of August to get our autumn stock in, as that’s when autumn starts.
”September also tends to be quite warm, so we will start by phasing in lightweight transeasonal pieces. Last week was a record week for dresses, sunglasses and men’s swimwear, so we’re fortunate that we’re still trading at full price.”
However, others said they are already seeing demand for trans-seasonal autumn product.
One chief executive of a womenswear multiple said: “We’re having a great reaction to full-price autumn stock. We have some lightweight pieces in and sales are split 50:50 between Sale and new stock.”
The sales agent for one mainstream womenswear brand agreed, saying autumn stock was selling “very well” in independents: “We deliver every month but we’re seeing a great uptake on transeasonal knitwear and trousers, and we’ve already had repeats on fur-trimmed ponchos. Anything that’s a little bit different is selling well.”