Fashion retailers paint a mixed picture of trade over the Easter bank holiday, which started with patchy weather but ended on a sunny note.
Retail data company Springboard revealed a 0.5% rise in footfall over the long weekend, with retail parks up 1.2% and shopping centres up 0.5%.
However, high street footfall was down 0.4% overall, largely due to a lack of shoppers on Good Friday, when it dipped by 10%. This was offset by Easter Monday, when footfall rose 3.5% year on year.
One managing director of a high street footwear chain described Easter trade as “lacklustre”. However, he added: “We’re beginning to get a sense that summer is finally starting so we’re not panicking too much with seasonable stock.”
The Dune Group founder and executive chairman Daniel Rubin said: “We had a good Easter driven by a very strong performance from men’s, handbags and accessories, and good performance on women’s’ driven by our mid-season Sale.
“Traffic to the stores didn’t suffer as much as we feared and our recently refitted stores in Brent Cross [London], Dublin, Metro [Gateshead] and Lakeside [Essex] saw exceptional increases in footfall and sales.”
This was echoed by independent retailers. Pamela Shiffer, owner of the eponymous womenswear independent in Primrose Hill, London, said: “There were serious customers out who were spending across the board.”
Womenswear boutique Sunday Best in Rawtenstall, Lancashire, closed on Good Friday and Easter Monday, but owner Jan Shutt said trade in the run-up to the weekend was strong. She added: “The weather had been fantastic for us; it brought people out wanting to pick up items for social occasions.”
Darren Hoggett, co-owner of J&B Menswear in Norwich, said sales over the bank holiday weekend were up by 5% on 2014. However, he added that because Easter was earlier this year he would have to “wait and see how [spring] pans out overall”.
Meanwhile Pauline Brown, owner of kidswear shop Kiddiewinks in Keswick, Cumbria, said trade was quiet. “Everyone in this town loves being outdoors and with the good weather they don’t want to go shopping; they go on walks and to the park instead.”
Despite reports suggesting that customers were curbing spending on clothes in favour of big-ticket items such as technology, cars and travel, retailers said customers were out making fashion purchases.
“Women still want to shop on a regular basis and have something new to wear,” said Shutt.