So far, so good. The blanket discounting that characterised last Christmas has yet to appear this year, which has improved retailers’ confidence.
While no one is expecting a mega-Christmas or sales to return to anywhere near pre-recession levels, nor are they forecasting doom and gloom.
Already, both multiples and indies have experienced a marked uplift in sales of lingerie as Christmas gifts, while boots and jerseywear continue to sell relatively well. Sharp stock control
has certainly helped retailers better manage the turbulent times and unseasonal weather patterns this autumn.
However, the issue of brands clearing stock via online and discount bricks-and-mortar channels continues to hit business at the indies – log on to the debate on the Drapers Independent Forum on social networking site LinkedIn. Should indies really lobby the government to introduce regulated Sale dates in the UK? I think this could create more havoc and trading casualties over the long term for a sector under pressure. What might have happened to Flannels, for instance?
Aside from the discount sites, etail promises to be its usual bright spot through December with this Monday expected to be the biggest online shopping day of the year. Etail trade body IMRG has forecast that shoppers will spend £350m, a rise of 10% on last year’s biggest day. There will certainly be some lessons to be learned around Christmas trading patterns from those sales trends.
The challenge now is to drive shopper momentum to maximise returns over the next three weeks. There is certainly no room for bah humbug attitudes.