Brands and retailers are bracing themselves for a cold spell, with short-order labels reporting a surge in orders despite mild temperatures hampering early autumn sales.
This week temperatures around the country have been around the average for September of 17c, although thermometers showed 19c in London.
While the weather has been broadly in line with previous years, retailers told Drapers it had slowed initial sales for the season.
Arcadia boss Sir Philip Green told Drapers: “If every retailer was being honest they’d say it’s too warm. We’ve had a month of summer [since the start of the current season] so it’s been a tough month for related product.”
He noted that a cold snap a few weekends ago had triggered a significant spike in sales, adding: “I don’t want to use [weather] as an excuse – that’s just the truth.”
Indie retailers have also been struggling to shift winter clothing. Amy Louise Keating, buyer at
Liverpool women’s young fashion retailer Boudoir Boutique, said: “We’ve seen a slower start in customers purchasing autumn pieces due to the longer summer. They’ve been buying summer items.”
Sara Eresen, co-owner of London premium womenswear store Harvest, said people were not in the “mentality” to buy outerwear yet. “We can’t wait for it to get colder,” she said. “If [the warm weather] carries on until early November we’ll have a problem.”
However, retailers could be in luck. The UK-wide forecast from the Met Office said the end of this week would turn “colder and windier”, with frost and rain across all regions.
Short-order brands have already reported an influx of orders for autumn products as retailers ready their stores for a winter rush.
One brand told Drapers it had sold out of jackets and was having to fly more product into the UK to keep up with demand.
Sumit Jairath, UK and export sales manager for short-order brand Forever Unique, said retailers had been ordering repeats over the last fortnight. “They are still buying into more transitional pieces and we’ve had to reorder. We have two or three repeats due to be delivered at the end of October,” he said.
Footwear brand Rockport’s UK and Republic of Ireland general manager Richard Mazzega-Ward said: “Shopping for boots hasn’t kicked in yet but when it gets cold over the weekend we expect sales to increase. John Lewis has already placed repeats on men’s waterproof business shoes.”
Juls Dawson, founder of agency Just Consultancies, which represents brands including Bellfield and Native Youth, said parkas and fisherman knits had been in demand over the past couple of weeks: “We are flying on outerwear and knits, which is strange because it’s not even cold yet. It’s very unpredictable.
“People have been taking in their stock at the right time. They aren’t holding off and waiting until it’s cold – they still have to stock their stores with something.”