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Retailers pin hopes on last-minute festive flurry

Multiple retailers and department stores are hoping for a busy final week in the run-up to Christmas, following a post-Black Friday slump in trade.

As Drapers went to press on 12 December, numerous retailers were running Sales in a bid to boost footfall as shoppers hold back on spending after the 24 November discounting event: Debenhams was offering up to 50% off products including womenswear and footwear; House of Fraser had 50% off selected lines; Asos had 30% off gifts; and New Look up to 50% off partywear.

“We have a new trading pattern now,” said the managing director of one womenswear multiple. “We’re seeing a big peak for Black Friday, then a week of returns, then a quieter couple of weeks in the run-up to Christmas.”

The managing director of one footwear retailer agreed: “We had a very good Black Friday but that has had a ripple effect and trade has been quieter since then. We’re hoping things will pick up from the 15th.”

He added that the cold snap this week and the fact that Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday should boost trade: “The cold weather should help, but we need people to get into Christmas party mode now. I think we’ll see plenty of last-minute shoppers with the way Christmas falls this year, and I’m hoping for a bit of an uptick on last year overall.”

The chief executive of one department store chain agreed the Sunday Christmas Eve should lead to a strong week of sales: “It has started well but I think we will see a nice build-up of trade next week. It will be busy right up until Christmas Eve.”

The development director at one womenswear multiple also hoped for an “uplift” after a difficult season: “It always helps when you have a trading pattern with a full week [running up until Christmas Eve]. It will spread sales over the week, and hopefully bring an uplift at the end and some positive results.”

Debbie Hewitt, non-executive director at White Stuff, said there is “no question” that Black Friday has brought Christmas trade forward, but also thought that last-minute shoppers could boost sales in an otherwise difficult festive period.

“It’s been tougher, for sure,” she said. “Footfall has been down, we’ve seen a significant lift online, and the discounting environment has been more noticeable and pronounced, so I think Christmas is going to be challenging.

“Shoppers are feeling cautious, so you have to make sure that what you’re offering is good value, and service becomes crucial. People will pay for great product and service.”

Daniel Rubin, executive chairman of footwear retailer Dune Group, also said product will be key factor in retailers’ Christmas success: “We’re hoping this Christmas will be marginally better than last year. We’re not expecting fireworks, as the market has been so promotional in the run-up, but it should be OK.

“I’m reasonably optimistic. If you have the right product, there are shoppers out there willing to buy it.”

 

Readers' comments (1)

  • You play the Black Friday game, then expect the consequences. Either you get the money in early or later - you cannot have it both ways.

    Many of the retailers mentioned here are always on Sale, so the trading climate is just an excuse to justify the means.

    Will be very interesting what retail does regarding Black Friday 2018 - will it be the 'same old, same old' or will they finally get their act together?

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