Larger retailers and brand houses are feeling positive about the final few days of trading in the run-up to Christmas and the new year, despite the recent challenging weather and widespread discounting on the high street.
John Lewis, which posted a 5.2% increase in fashion sales for the week to December 14, said it had “risen to the challenge” of the busy festive selling period.
Andrew Murphy, retail director of the department store, said: “It’s been a solid week of trade, and our results through the whole pre-Christmas period are encouraging. With fewer than 10 days to go until Christmas, it’s still all to play for.”
Multichannel retailer N Brown’s chief executive Angela Spindler told Drapers the countdown to December 25 would be particularly tense as shoppers are watching their pennies.
“Shoppers are still cautious and looking for a bargain so it will be a competitive Christmas from that perspective,” she said. “A lot of retailers in the industry have a lot of stock to move given the warm weather at the beginning of the season so they will continue to discount.”
However, she added: “A lot of shoppers use our credit facility and we currently have our lowest ever number of arrears. I don’t think there will be a big boost to the economy in 2015 but the plus-size, over-50 market has good growth projections and we are well placed to take advantage of that.”
Dan Le Vesconte, managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa for footwear brand house Wolverine Worldwide, said he was “quietly optimistic” about trading in the UK next year, with spring 15 bookings enjoying double-digit year-on-year growth. But he said other markets could pose a problem: “Russia and Turkey are still causing problems, but there is always something; uncertainty is the only thing that’s certain.”
He said the unpredictable weather this year had been a “great lesson” for the trade, with retailers acknowledging the need to introduce more transeasonal product to combat the issue.
Johnnie Boden, owner of fashion and lifestyle retailer Boden, said the business would “continue to fight hard” for customers’ spend in 2015.
“If we don’t surprise our customers, if we are unoriginal or if we are predictable, then customers will say ‘So what?’ Our product, marketing and service need to continue to be original, exciting and unexpected. Innovate. Innovate. Innovate. I’m both excited and terrified in equal measure,” he added.