Retailers have already started marking down pieces from autumn 13 collections to stimulate business after a slow start to the season.
In its latest Retail Sales Monitor, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) noted that prices on some autumn ranges had been reduced in August as warmer weather meant shoppers had little interest in winter woollies.
BRC senior analyst Anne Alexandre said although the discounting was not widespread, anecdotal evidence from a number of retailers found that some have introduced discounts on autumn items that have initially not sold well.
Alexandre said pure-play etailers operating in mainstream clothing and footwear were the keenest discounters in August.
The BRC said it expected discounts to ease off in the coming months to a more sustainable level.
“Some people need a little bit of stimulation,” Alexandre said. “It’s happening more online as [retailers] can then choose to only discount on some lines or for a short period. “Some retailers were saying that because they had brought in their autumn range early they could already see the items that were not selling well and decided to discount them. But when [consumers] start to think about autumn clothing retailers will then have the stronger-selling pieces, which they will sell at full price.”
This week BRC figures also revealed that clothing prices continued to drop in August, although deflation slowed slightly to 9.3% from 9.7% in July.
According to the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index, women’s, men’s and children’s clothing continued to report high levels of deflation, although they all slowed on July’s rates. Footwear reported a slight acceleration in its deflation rate.
Perhaps as a result of the elevated levels of discounting, non-food sales climbed in August. According to the Retail Sales Monitor, non-food sales rose 2.1% on a like-for-like basis in the three months to the end of August. In the four weeks to August 24, overall UK retail sales values were up 1.8% on a like-for-like basis compared with last year.
Last week, high street chains told Drapers they were hoping for chillier weather this winter after a promising start to sales for the season, with many pinning their hopes on ankle boots, autumnal knitwear and outerwear.