Drapers probe leading Independents to get their View From The Shop floor.
It’s difficult, this month sales are down between 10 to 15% on average across the stores. Last month, we were marginally up, but the last few weeks have been very tough, the credit crunch is really starting to bite. There’s a general sense of doom and gloom and people are afraid to spend. Customers are worried; if they’re not personally affected they are worried that they might be next year. There have been lots of redundancies in the surrounding the Stoke-on-Trent area as well which is starting to really affect consumer confidence.
How are you feeling about Christmas?
Things are going to get tougher. We’re expecting to be down at Christmas. If not, we’ll be very pleased, but then we’ll pay for it after Christmas.
How is the independent menswear market doing?
Most independents I’ve spoken to are feeling it a bit. However, I am quietly confident about business going forward. It’s going to be tough in the first half, I am concerned about the summer, but this time next year things will be strong again.
What brands do you stock?
Formalwear includes Hugo Boss and Giorgio Armani, with casualwear from Ralph Lauren, Stone Island, CP Company, Armani and Hugo Boss.
Which brands are doing well for you?
All the brands are performing ok in their own way; I haven’t got any one that’s terrible. High ticket items like suits have been our toughest to sell, casualwear has been stronger.
Have you bought into any new brands for SS09?
Yes D&G, it’s got a very strong collection. Apart from that, I’m keeping things very tight. I’m re-doing the budget, it will be down for next year, and more so with tailoring. I’d already put in my orders for tailoring for SS09, but if I’d known this was going to happen in the marketplace, I’d have cut back considerably. I’ll cut back on formalwear next year; it will be down about 20%. I’ll also be looking to do more in-season buying going forward.
What are customers buying into at the moment?
People are buying into more key, classic pieces, and are leaving some of the more trendy pieces. Price is a definite factor at the moment, especially with coats. Customers are looking for versatile pieces, and saving up for that one item, rather than buying lots of items on credit.
Do you have transactional website?
I’m in the middle of a relaunch. I will have a transactional website in two weeks, www.pockets.co.uk, which will offer a selected range.
Are you expanding at all?
I am interested to see what opportunities turn up. I will prepare the business, so if something does come up, I am ready to go for it.
Paul Platt is owner of seven-store designer menswear independent Pockets in Shrewsbury, Crewe, Nantwich, Worcester and Stoke.