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Retailers anticipate Bank Holiday boost

Multiple retailers are counting on new-season product and further discounting to drive sales over the upcoming Bank Holiday weekend.

Several high street chains are still making a push on final clearance Sales in the run-up to the long weekend, including House of Fraser, Debenhams, Office, Burton and New Look.

Independent analyst Richard Hyman said many retailers have prolonged their summer clearance Sales this year because of poor trade.

“A lot of it depends on the weather but I don’t think we’ll see any easing of pressure at all this weekend. At this time of year we usually see an increase in the number of retailers moving off Sale into full-price trade week by week, but this year a lot of retailers have extended their Sales as the market is weak and there is still a lot of stock to clear.”

The boss at one high street supplier echoed this sentiment: “It’s tough at the moment. There is a lot of discounting going on, and the Sales period will extend into the Bank Holiday across the industry. Beyond that retailers are very concerned about how trading will be in September. The ongoing Brexit uncertainty hasn’t helped.”

However, some multiples told Drapers they are expecting an uplift in trade on the back of new season product launches, including Jigsaw chief executive Peter Ruis, who said trade had been “strong” and he had “high expectations” for the weekend.

Erica Vilkauls, chief executive at womenswear chain East, reported a 40% increase in sales for its transitional range over the past five weeks. 

“We expect to see growth in this area continue,” she added. “Even if footfall ends up lower than expected, we expect to see higher conversion.”

Juls Dawson, co-founder of agency Just Consultancies, which represents brands including Bellfield and Ichi, said there was early demand for autumn product: “Normally independent retailers hold off taking in winter stock at this point in the year, but we’re now seeing an appetite for bringing in new-season product. With both final markdowns and more new product on the shop floor, I think we’ll see a busy weekend.”

Simon Berwin, managing director at Berwin & Berwin, which supplies retailers including House of Fraser, agreed, adding: “Bizarrely for August, we’ve been pleasantly surprised to see new-season product performing very strongly, particularly in the past 10 days.

“We’ve been getting feedback that people are buying more luxury, colourful product. Footfall has been better than expected, and people are responding more to newness rather than discounting.”

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