We may have seen the first blue sky of 2010 this week but spring has certainly not yet sprung for the fashion sector.
February sales have been diabolical across many sub-sectors and, worryingly, even young fashion is reportedly feeling the heat (or rather lack of it).
As Drapers went to press, the Met Office was forecasting more snow and sleet followed by frosts and rain - hardly conducive to shifting the chambray denim, dresses and open-toed clogs that are dominant on the high street.
But how much of this shopper apathy is actually weather-driven? February pay day had little or no impact on sales last weekend and even Monday and Tuesday’s glimpse of sunshine had nowhere near the effect retailers would have hoped for, which suggests something far more worrying is underlying what has been a distinctly average spring 10 performance so far.
Some consumers are undoubtedly just receiving the bills which helped to fuel a more buoyant Christmas but others are clearly nervy as we wait for the general election and the resulting policies that are introduced by any incoming government.
Any way you look at it, there can only be a squeeze on disposable income on the way, which after a period of low interest rates is going to come as a shock to the system to that group of shoppers who have been holding up sales so far. Unemployment, coupled with shrinking university places, continues to drag down recovery prospects.
I hate to say it but a double dip is looking ever more likely. But we’ve already witnessed the worst of the recessionary shake-out and the industry is ready and fit to fight round two.