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Multiples slash prices on spring 15 stock

High street retailers and etailers began cutting prices on spring 15 stock as far back as mid-January, suggesting the shift towards earlier discounts is continuing.

Many retailers began reductions this week, including Marks & Spencer, which offered 20% off new season stock online on Monday.

However, Arcadia’s Wallis and Dorothy Perkins chains ran weekend promotions on spring 15 product in January, according to digital marketing platform SalesGossip, while New Look, Laura Ashley and Bonmarché were among those to discount in February.

UK clothing and footwear prices fell 7.8% year on year in February, according to data from the British Retail Consortium, compared with a 6.8% drop in January.

Honor Westnedge, lead retail analyst at research firm Verdict, said the pattern of going into Sale earlier emerged in 2014. “Last year we couldn’t believe how early retailers were putting new season into Sale – at the end of January – and it has all been brought forward to the same time this year.

“A slow autumn last season would mean retailers are keen to drive sales in the first few months of this year. They are discounting to generate interest with shoppers and, if they can generate the volume of sales, that will offset the drop in margin.”

One retail veteran agreed that multiples are being forced to discount earlier to entice consumers to spend, adding: “It’s all about the blended margin; the low margins of discounted goods will balance out with full-price stock.”

Independent retailers said longer discounting periods on the high street are having a detrimental effect on their businesses.

Matt Horstead, owner of menswear retailer Dartagnan in Chichester, West Sussex, said: “Before long we will be asking when multiples are not in Sale. It’s insane. A lot of them have been discounting continuously since Black Friday (November 28, 2014). There has definitely been a shift in discounting culture since last year and it will wipe out the independents.”

Julia Aitken, owner of womenswear boutique Stanwells, which has two stores in Bournemouth and Lymington, Hampshire, said “panic discounting” by multiples is debasing the value of products.

She added: “It has to stop, it’s ruining the trade. We have to hold our nerve because the weather will change. Anyone can sell something cheap, we have to be more savvy with our marketing rather than resorting to discounting to drive footfall – profit is better than turnover.”

Discounts on spring 15 stock:

  • Dorothy Perkins – 20% off, January 16-19
  • Wallis - 20% off, January 23-26
  • Burton – 20% off, early February
  • New Look and Laura Ashley – 20% off, mid-February
  • Bonmarche – 20% off, February 22-26
  • Debenhams – 25% off, February 24 to March 1
  • Marks & Spencer – 20% off online, March 2
  • H&M – 50% off fashion and homeware online, March 3-4
  • Kurt Geiger, Asos and Amazon – 20% off, this week
  • George at Asda – 50% off, this week
  • – 20% off this week

Sources: SalesGossip, Drapers



Readers' comments (5)

  • We were known as a nation of shop keepers now we will change that to a Nation of Discounters !
    We need to change the law and follow Europe. All these retailers are doing is killing normal trade and squeezing the manufacturers! When will they learn?? suggest they visit, Burberry, LVMH, GUCCI, PRADA etc or Primark.
    NO DISCOUNT!!!!!!!!!!

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  • These discounting multiples are pathetic and are guilty of killing the High Street. The public are going to have to be re-educated into paying a full price as a result of this method of "trading". And I use the term loosely. As things stand, all the multiples are doing is holding stock for the public. If their concern is one of stock levels, then, quite simply buy less and react to demand. Oops, sorry, I forgot. They can't do that can they? Because, that, of course, is being a proper retailer.

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  • Over supply. Under demand. Discounting. Margin pressure.

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  • darren hoggett

    We had a best week of the year so far last week and were up a considerable amount on the previous year. We were not on Sale, the customers just wanted to buy good quality clothes, not overpriced with excellent service. Everybody was happy. There is absolutely no reason to go 'on sale', all you are doing in throwing margin away.

    The multiples are largely run by hopeless management who have absolutely no idea what they are doing, which is why they hold in the positions they are in. There are few exceptions.

    Is the clothing industry a cowboy industry? Discuss.

    Darren Hoggett
    J&B Menswear Limited/Norwich

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  • Well said Darren Hoggett

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