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Wait for the political dust to settle

Jessica Brown

The final prime ministerial debate and a bank holiday weekend of rain and shine (depending on where you live) brought with it a mixed picture on trading ahead of the general election, which was due to take place as Drapers went to press.

The final prime ministerial debate and a bank holiday weekend of rain and shine (depending on where you live) brought with it a mixed picture on trading ahead of the general election, which was due to take place as Drapers went to press.

Independent retailers appear to have fared better than the high street over the past fortnight, benefiting from their loyal shoppers out on the hunt for lightweight summer product and occasionwear for the wedding season. However, figures from trade body the BHF-BSSA for the first quarter suggest it remains challenging overall for clothing and footwear specialists, as well as independent department stores (see p6), and chief executive Alan Hawkins is right to be ready to challenge the government to cut the red tape that is strangling small businesses and ease the cost pressures that are continually heaped upon our nation of shopkeepers.

On the high street, the picture has been less defined with some stores (largely at the value end or those running promotional activity) reporting a strong bank holiday weekend. By contrast at the other end of the spectrum, particularly for mid-market young fashion operators, business remains weak as unemployment among young adults continues to climb.

Elsewhere, some retailers have noticed a sharp North/South divide ahead of the election. It seems in areas with high employment in the public sector (proportionally this is much higher in the North) people have simply stopped shopping amid fears about job stability. Down South though there are still fashion-hungry shoppers on the high street, but the volcanic ash cloud still hangs overhead, threatening tourist spend.

How long we must wait to feel the real post-election impact remains to be seen.

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