Your browser is no longer supported. For the best experience of this website, please upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Retailers can’t let bad weather cloud their judgement

Caroline Nodder

When you look at the dramatic effect the weather can have on an industry like fashion, is it really any wonder that us Brits are so obsessed with it?

When you look at the dramatic effect the weather can have on an industry like fashion, is it really any wonder that us Brits are so obsessed with it?

No sooner had some bright spark cried drought than the heavens opened … and stayed open for several weeks now with no let-up in sight.

All this means the positive start to the year we’d seen thanks to an unseasonably hot pre-spring period is rapidly being eroded and trading for the past month has been extremely tough .

Speaking to retailers out in the market, most are already talking about mid-season promotions and Sales to try and drive sell-through, which is a worrying trend at this time of year. The bank holiday earlier this week was a prime example as persistent rain kept people at home.

There were some bright spots, with department stores – offering shoppers everything under one warm dry roof – doing better than other stores, and online picking up traffic from those who chose not to venture out at all.

Nevertheless, the overall feeling was that most consumers are holding back, perhaps also because of the recent media coverage of the double-dip which has dented their confidence in an already fragile market.

Most retailers are now faced with a gamble: Do you go on Sale early and shift stock on a volume-over-margin basis, or do you play chicken with the weather and hold out for some sunshine to finally encourage shoppers to spend on their summer wardrobes? The latter also leaves you exposed should your competitors opt for the volume strategy and undercut you on price, especially if you stock brands that are sold elsewhere.

Either way, the outcome is unlikely to be as financially rewarding as a nice warm and dry start to the year would have been.

But things are not all doom and gloom. We stand on the brink of an exciting summer for the UK, with the upcoming Jubilee followed by the Olympics and Paralympics sure to inject some degree of patriotic goodwill among British shoppers.

There are also some industry firsts coming up which should help to boost brand Britain abroad including the British Fashion Council’s decision to create a standalone men’s fashion week event in June to better fit with the international buying season for menswear, and the introduction of a pre-collection event for those same buyers. This gives UK designers a real opportunity to build international trade, an area that is growing for most businesses even as the UK market struggles.

All of this – the men’s event, the Jubilee and the Olympics/Paralympics – will be infinitely improved of course if, for once, the good old British summer could include some actual sunshine. It’s not too much to ask, is it?  

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.