Independent fashion retailers across the UK and Ireland had a generally positive Christmas, but some said “early and aggressive” discounting on the high street hit their bottom line.
Many indies Drapers spoke to this week said sales over Christmas and into January were slightly up on or flat against the previous year.
Louis Copeland, owner of the eponymous men’s tailoring business in Dublin, said: “We had a good Christmas overall. Business came later than normal this year as it fell later in the week, but it did come. We were up a few percent on last year.”
Vince Clark, owner of menswear indie The Priory, which has two stores in Bridlington, Yorkshire, added: “Our Christmas trading held up pretty well, with store sales up and online pretty much flat. In general it feels like the economic environment is better and there’s more cash around, with people wanting to buy better but less.”
Denise Potter, owner of womenswear retailer Darcy B in Woodbridge, Suffolk, said: “It wasn’t too bad at all. Sales of high-winter items like heavy coats weren’t good, but separates and party dresses did very well. The Sale, which started on December 29, is going well but we are selling more full-price stock than Sale this week.”
However, Potter said early discounting from department stores had a negative impact on sales. “One shopper bought a dress from us one Friday and she got an email from Harrods on the Sunday saying it was 40% off so we had to price-match,” she explained.
Charles Clinkard, owner of the eponymous footwear chain, agreed that early Sales had hampered trade: “The run-up to Christmas was poor. We were hit by deep and aggressive discounting at Jones Bootmaker, which had up to 70% off, and Clarks, which had 50% off. They have lots of excess stock due to the mild weather, so that has compounded the issue.”
Kim Jackson, owner of kids’ footwear retailer Klodhoppers in Hove and Haywards Heath, Sussex, said: “We had to start our Sale just before Christmas, whether we liked it or not, as everyone on the high street was doing it.
“Shoppers are expecting a bargain, so when the big boys like Clarks go early, we have to be seen to be competing as there is only a certain amount in the pot to be spent.”