Retailers are scrambling to put autumn stock in store after writing off the summer season, just as the weather is forecast to heat up.
Several retailers and brands told Drapers they had put transitional and some heavier-weight new ranges onto the shop floor weeks early, in response to consumer demand for autumn product.
One buying director said she was already keen to make the best of sales of new-season ranges. "We are calling in autumn stock, where we can, probably about three weeks early," she said. "Fleeces, knitwear, coats, even fleecy bathrobes have seen amazing sales. We've had really good reactions to autumn product and we are flying some lines in to make sure we are not out of stock.
"The good news is that it has given us an early steer on what is doing well from the reactions we have had, and we know what we can and can't sell."
The boss of one boardsports retailer and brand said it had gone on Sale in July rather than August to clear stock for the next season. He added: "We've got jackets, knits and other autumn stuff in store much earlier than last year. We are delivering to our wholesale customers when normally they hold off until September for that kind of product."
The buying director of one high street young fashion chain said although summer was a wash-out in most respects, it would be a brave retailer who started to bring in full autumn stock at this time. "Because it is mostly knitwear coming in from the Far East, you would have to start flying it in, and you can guarantee that it will land here in the middle of a heatwave," he said. "For the next few weeks, most retailers will try to break the back of any remaining Sale stock and sell some lighter-weight transitional ranges."
Some brands are benefiting from the poor weather, which is stimulating demand for heavier weight autumn product. The boss of one outdoor brand said: "We've had orders for all our Gore-Tex autumn product at the end of June. Normally people don't start asking for them until late August. Fortunately, we had placed early orders with our suppliers so we were able to deliver. The problem is, I will probably run out by October."
Just as UK retailers write off the summer season, forecasters at the Met Office are predicting above-average temperatures for August, especially in the south, and drier-than-normal conditions, apart from in the north. For autumn and winter, forecasters are predicting a drier and colder winter than last year, which is potentially good news for fashion retailers.