Retailers look to be holding their nerve and not going on Sale early following a long-anticipated improvement in the weather this week.
While trading remains tentative after a period of almost eight weeks of wet conditions, retailers including French Connection, Reiss, East and Schuh are holding out until the end of June, or later, before going on Sale.
This is despite the launch this week of department store chain Debenhams’ Summer Spectacular, which is offering more than £200m worth of reductions and up to 25% off throughout its stores.
According to the financial director of one high street chain, the growing trend for retailers to “commit earlier but to less” has meant greater flexibility in managing stock, as it means they benefit from fabric availability and better prices but are not committing all of their spend. There is also more transitional product around, he said, meaning there is less high-season stock to shift.
According to its brand director Andrew Rogers, premium chain Reiss has also benefitted from having a “trans-seasonal package”. He said: “You have to be clever and build this into your design. Some people will have bought lots of [high summer] stuff when they shouldn’t have. We don’t know when we’ll go on Sale, but it won’t be any earlier than last year.”
Indies are also holding out. Jo Davies, owner of premium womenswear indie Black White Denim in Wilmslow, Cheshire, will go on Sale at the end of June, and she agreed that tighter buying had enabled retailers to wait for longer.
She said: “We bought much tighter this year based on last year, so there’s less pressure to go on Sale early. This is also the first week we’ve had of summer and it is the first week people have come and started buying proper summer clothes, so to start discounting now would be a mistake.”
Other multiple retailers, including Schuh and East, have offers on selected lines but will wait until the end of June to go on Sale.
According to East chief executive officer Suzi Spink, the womenswear chain will have its Sale in July, as planned. However, it has held some promotions on accessories, including 20% off.
She added: “At the moment we have no special promotions on and are relying on the sunshine. I know a lot of our competitors have still got promotions on so we will continue to watch the high street and keep our fingers crossed that it remains sunny.”
In footwear, Schuh will discount on selected “slow moving” lines this week but will not go on Sale until the end of June. Chief executive Colin Temple said: “It’s just a case of trying to shift some of the slower-moving seasonal product. We don’t rely that heavily on seasonal product like sandals. The stuff we sell really well, like the vulcanised product, has continued to sell well despite the poor weather.”