Samantha Carr, Owner of womenswear independent The Wardrobe in Tarporley, Cheshire, and member of the Fashion Association of Britain (FAB).
As the buying calendar draws to a close, I’m feeling optimistic about the season ahead. We’ve had a good solid start and we’re hopeful the rest of March will be as strong. The better weather has definitely helped. When the sun is shining, people are out and about and footfall inevitably goes up.
Knitwear and scarves are still selling strongly, particularly in shades of lemon and lime. Unusual colours and prints have also proved popular as the season has begun to change. Sugarhill Boutique and Nougat have been picked up well, as have Jo Edwards embroidered scarves.
Given the uncertain weather we decided to change our buying strategy this season, keeping most of our budget for in season.
That way, if we need more coats or jumpers later in the year we can buy into the most popular styles.
A mix of short order and forward order is key. Keeping money back allows us to buy our core brands while still having the option to get more styles in store as and when we need them.
Pure London is a great show to pick up new labels to keep our offer fresh for our customers. This season we bought into Eve Pollard dresses and Spanish casualwear label Ese O Ese for the first time, which will both sit well within The Wardrobe’s current mix.
We also changed our pricing architecture for spring, lowering our entry-price brands. Despite the more upbeat feeling in the market, customers are still price-conscious and that’s something we have to bear in mind. Dresses at £100 for example will work, but those at £150 don’t sell as well. Keeping that maximum spend in line with customer expectations is still really important.
With this in mind the news that the minimum wage is to increase by 3% is good news for all indies. It will help boost the economy as people will have extra money in their pockets and it will give customers a more positive outlook on things.