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Shoe shoppers drag their feet in Indian summer

Independent footwear retailers have reported a slow start to autumn trade as warm temperatures cooled shoppers’ demand for new-season styles.

Following on from a tumultuous spring season, book-ended by snow and a heatwave, last month was balmy, peaking at a high of 26.5°, recorded in Cambridge on 17 September.

Paul Haslam, owner of Haslams in Wilmslow, told Drapers the warm temperatures have discouraged shoppers’ demand for boots: “Trade is not doing as well as it should be. Sales were down year on year in September by about 10% and it hasn’t really picked up. The weather is having a big effect – it’s not cold enough.”

Charles Clinkard, owner of the eponymous footwear retailer, agreed: “It’s tough. We’ve had a very slow pick-up on ladies’ seasonal, which is partly the weather.”

He also cited the impact of Brexit uncertainty on consumer sentiment: “There’s a complete lack of confidence and people have come back from expensive holidays because the pound is weak. As a store, we’re buying less going forward.”

On the other hand, he said back-to-school ranges did very well, particularly all-black trainers.

The athleisure trend, which dominated at footwear trade show Micam in Milan last month, also seemed to be more resistant against disappointing sales.

At Triads in Middlesbrough, the desire for trainers from sportswear brands has helped it overcome recent challenges.

Store manager Tony Rogers said: “They got rid of the free parking in town and we were concerned that was going to affect business, but it hasn’t. People really want brands such as Nike and Adidas right now.”

Marc Whitehead, owner and manager at Exquisite in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, said trans-seasonal styles are selling well: “People are dusting off their shoes that have been in storage over summer and realising they need a new pair. Ankle boots and shoe boots are doing particularly well.”

Mark Fitzpatrick, director and buyer at Fitzpatricks Shoes in Dublin, was also more optimistic, as investment in ecommerce has helped to boost overall sales: “We’ve seen a particular rise in online sales. With free returns and free postage, it’s just more convenient for everyone. Business is up about 9%-11% on the same time last year. People are definitely investing more at the moment: knee-high boots are doing well.”





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