Multiples and brands have reported a “strong reaction” from shoppers to new, transitional product as the autumn 17 season kicks off.
As the end of July approaches, many high street retailers are winding down their summer Sales and introducing the first drop of trans-seasonal product for autumn.
John Lewis came out of clearance on 16 July and reported a strong first week of the new season. Fashion sales were up 15.5% in the week to 22 July compared with the same period last year, driven by womenswear – up 34.5%.
Retailers and brands told Drapers they are exiting the Sale period without spring stock thanks to the warm weather in June and said shoppers are buying into new-season, full-price product.
“Full-price sales are coming through strongly,” said Peter Ruis, chief executive of Jigsaw. “We go on Sale a few weeks later than most [on 20 June], so we still have some pent-up demand for the last discounts, but our new autumn packs are more trans-seasonal than ever, so the customer is reacting positively to the instant wearability of the new collections.”
The chief executive of a womenswear multiple agreed: “[Our customer] is buying seasonal clothing for right now – dresses, short sleeves, not heavy autumn pieces. She is looking for something fresh and new.
“We’re coming out of Sale nice and clean, and brought our new collection into stores at the beginning of the month. So far this season sales are up 10% [on 2016] and margins are up 25% as the full-price mix has increased. One of our bestsellers at the moment is a £250 dress, so our shoppers are looking for beautiful, high-quality product rather than being price orientated.”
Womenswear brand Hush introduced a new seasonal summer collection in July after kicking off its end-of-season Sale earlier than usual in June.
“Rather than bringing autumn stock forward, we brought out a whole new collection designed for now,” said director Rupert Youngman.
“It’s very beach, summer dresses, tops and lightweight jumpers. There’s a very noticeable change in how consumers are buying – they are buying for immediate use. We find that people aren’t buying for the next two or three months.”
Youngman said Hush’s Sale had performed well: “We didn’t have a huge amount of stock and we had a successful summer season. The weather made some difference but I think a lot of it was down to people being happy with our range, the large product mix and us dropping new product.”
Geoff Quinn, chief executive at TM Lewin, said the retailer had “one of the best Sales in recent times” in terms of volume. He added: “We are quietly optimistic about the coming season – we’ve had a good run so far this year, and expect this to continue.”
Office for National Statistics retail sales for June:
Total sales rose by 0.6% year on year in June, following a 1.1% drop in May
Clothing and footwear sales were up 11.6% year on year
Online sales by 15.9%