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Temperature drop lifts sales for indies

Sales rise as autumn weather kicks in.

Independent fashion retailers across the UK have reported an uplift in sales in October, as the weather turned more autumnal.

“Trade has picked up over the last few weeks,” confirmed Katharine MacLaverty, owner of three south-east London lifestyle boutiques, The Dulwich Trader, Ed and Tomlinsons. “Summer sales were slow at The Dulwich Trader, which is more upmarket. Ed is mid-range and it did quite well, so that balanced things out.”

Kimberly Buchanan, co-owner of womenswear boutique Frontiers in Edinburgh, said: “Trade has been good since the start of the season. We ended up putting out the autumn 16 collection earlier than previous years, probably because of the weather, which hasn’t been all that good. We started selling our autumn collection in August.”

Emma Willis, owner of the eponymous London-based shirt retailer, said: “We have been busy, especially with the dollar price fluctuating. Online sales have been increasing, which may have something to do with Brexit and sterling weakening [which is boosting sales from outside of the UK]. October and September have been incredibly busy.”

A strong multichannel offer has proved the key to success for many independents.

Kate Walton, owner of Gosforth womenswear store Havetolove, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this month, said: “Trade has been good, we have been very busy, especially since the weather got colder. We have had an online presence since 2008 and that has definitely helped.”

Simona Walters, owner of lingerie and swimwear retailer Dolci Follie in London, said: “Trade [in the shop] has been going up and down – it depends if it is raining or not. The online platform has been more consistent.”

However, Chris Russell, owner of menswear independent Jepsons in Nantwich, said competing with larger players online was a challenge: “We have an online presence and that does help, but you have to be constantly at the top of the list [of search results]. Someone like John Lewis can pay to be at the top.”

Nonetheless, he said sales are up on last year: “We are trying to get new customers in. We find older clients are coming in and spending money.”

Others warned it is still tough on the high street. Angela Knowles, owner of east London clothing and lifestyle store Barüch, said: “August was busy, probably because it was a school holiday, but last month was unusually quiet. With the change in seasons and the autumn/winter stock coming in, I was expecting sales to pick up, but they haven’t yet.”

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