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Retailers ready as forecasters predict an Indian summer

Clothing and footwear retailers have shaken off the wet bank holiday and are steeling themselves for the prospect of another warm autumn.

Up to two weeks’ worth of rain fell in some parts of the UK on Monday August 31, driving shoppers away from the high street and into covered retail destinations.

High street footfall over the long weekend was down 0.1% on last year, but footfall to retail parks and shopping centres rose 8.5% and 6.2% respectively, according to data firm Springboard.

Forecasters have now predicted an Indian summer. Online weather forecaster Accuweather predicts above-average highs of 22 degrees in September and 21 degrees in October, before it drops to 12 degrees in November.

Fat Face chief executive Anthony Thompson said retailers are ready for any eventuality: “Last year was very warm and I think everyone learned a lesson about the need to be flexible in what you offer. This year we’re taking a good healthy approach to layering and we’ve purposely built flexibility into our ranges.”

He described trade over the bank holiday weekend as “healthy”, adding: “As expected we did fractionally better in shopping centres, but our holiday destinations on the coast also did well because some people chose to go away.”

Tony Links, buying manager of menswear chain Slaters, which has 23 stores across the UK, said: “Because of the forecasts we are taking our heavier items slightly later; we will have our full autumn offer out from the end of September, whereas last year it was the start of the month.

“The season will also be longer. We’ll bring in coats in October, but they will stay until February. Layering and transitional products like casual jackets will be key in the next few months.”

The chief executive of one footwear and accessories multiple said he was suspicious of long-term weather forecasts: “We had a warm autumn last year, but this year I think it’s going to be cold.”

However, he said it has reviewed its product mix to make sure it has a balance of styles to suit all weathers.

Readers' comments (2)

  • The last time I checked, weather varies across the UK, particularly during the autumn. Perhaps if retail head offices permitted more autonomy to stores to react to local weather conditions, forecasts would be less critical?

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  • Another reason - if it were needed - to show that whoever thinks the winter season starts in July is a complete imbecile. This utterly absurd way brands skew the seasons has to stop.

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