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Prophets of doom perplexed by Asos

You can’t really blame the British consumer for staying indoors and keeping the curtains shut – it’s starting to get scary out there.

Even if you don’t know precisely what it all means for you and your well-worn Maestro card, the news that the US bank bail-out had been rejected (a revised version was due to be put to the vote at the time of writing) and the Russian stock exchange has ground to a halt (for a couple of hours anyway) is enough to put anyone off buying that new pair of shoes.

Anyone but not everyone, that is. I for one won’t be put off (if we truly are walking down the road to perdition, I shall do it in shiny shoes), and certainly the burgeoning customer base of Asos looks like it will continue to spend, as the etailer released yet another upbeat trading statement this week showing it had outperformed even the top end of analysts’ predictions and demonstrating that maybe from the safety of their home or desk, people will still spend. Sales for the six months to September 30 were up a staggering 104%, but Asos chief executive Nick Robertson sounded a note of caution for the second half of the year lest we all get carried away and expect triple-digit growth again, stating that he had tougher comparables to beat.

But while these figures are impressive and show much-needed signs of life among UK shoppers, they weren’t the most heartening piece of news I’ve heard from a retailer this week. The best news came from a womenswear indie who told me that while her footfall was down, her sales were up as her loyal customers stop being promiscuous with their spending and invest more with a retailer they trust, which should give some hope to indies everywhere.

Lauretta Roberts, editor

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