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Strong summer lifts mood on high street

Warm weather sales and high sell-throughs during the summer have put retailers in an optimistic mood for autumn 14.

Dune chief executive Daniel Rubin told Drapers summer footwear sales were “certainly helped by the weather”, while occasion footwear performed well as optimism among shoppers increased, encouraging them to seek dressier options and smarter looks for the wedding season.

“We had a very strong summer, primarily due to an excellent response to the range. The strong reaction to more dressy product after two years of poor sales was a major bonus and drove sales in footwear and accessories,” he said. “There was also a big appetite for colour with nudes, metallics, pastels and brights performing well.”

He added: “The start to autumn 14 has been very encouraging with ankle boots, for both women and men, courts and casuals all trending. Key features have been Chelsea boots, cleated-sole work boots, block heels and fur.”

One brand director of a supermarket fashion brand said controlled markdowns helped sales during the summer.

“We’re pleased with how summer’s gone,” she said. “Like every retailer, our sales vary according to the weather. People aren’t buying ahead as much as they used to, people want to buy now wear now. So it’s more important to get your mix right, whether it’s colour or sleeve length or layering. You’ve got to tempt the customer into the new season.”

Debenhams said it had enjoyed a stellar performance, particularly across footwear and accessories during the often hot and sunny summer months, with sales of women’s sandals up 30% on last year and men’s boat shoes up 87%.

It also said men’s summer hats had proved a hit, with trilby sales up 30% on 2013. For autumn 14 it is expecting outerwear to be popular, with the Aberdeen mac (£120) and parka (£145) from its Hammond & Co range – designed by Savile Row tailor Patrick Grant and being extended by 60 stores to a total of 80 for the season – to sell well.

One chief executive of a UK footwear multiple said: “The response to our back-to-school ranges has been very positive and a little bit better than last year. In general this summer was good so we’re quite pleased with it and optimistic for autumn.”

Anita Barr, group fashion buying director at Harvey Nichols, said: “We’ve had a really positive start to the season with brands like Roksanda Ilincic, Erdem, Kenzo and JW Anderson performing well. Balenciaga, which has just opened a larger space in our Knightsbridge store, has also had a strong start.

“Denim is a big trend for autumn 14 and as a category it’s doing consistently well for us. Key pieces including Paige’s Transcend collection and the J Brand Photo Ready denim. Knitwear is also key, with Acne and The Row offering strong options in this area.”

Ray Hernan, chief executive of Dublin department store Arnotts, said consumer confidence is growing in Ireland, but is still fragile.

“We have seen good growth in the first half and we’re on target to have our best year in six or seven years. We also have new brands in the pipeline for autumn, including Jigsaw and Phase Eight, that will complement and underline organic growth in our existing fashion business in the second half of this year.

“There has definitely been a turnaround in the Irish economy but people are still conscious of how they spend; they aren’t going to splurge.”

Despite this more positive sentiment, footfall across the UK took a knock over the wet bank holiday weekend, falling 5.4% year on year.

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