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We’re all going on a summer holiday

Ian Wright

The Association of British Travel Agents recently published some research which indicates that the typical British holidaymaker spends as much money at home each year, before their trip, as they do once they’re sunning or skiing abroad – to the tune of £31.2bn.

And guess what was number one on the list of things travellers buy in stores? No, not enough sun cream to cover the Canary Islands, but clothing and shoes, equating to £1.83bn in the coffers of our venerable industry.

But are we set up to make the most of this? Yes, the idea of a ‘holiday shop’ section is nothing new while designers have cottoned on with the introduction of cruise collections, as we found in our feature in the May 19 issue, but it does seem like some quarters are not primed and ready to take advantage of shoppers’ cash before it’s swapped for euros, dollars or pesos.

One of the biggest mistakes is going into summer product promotions too early. A quick straw poll at the time of writing (May 22) noted House of Fraser, Debenhamsand to a lesser degree River Island were all in some kind of promotion or Sale beyond the usual service offers, with the rest of the high street bound to follow.

While the idea must be to get the jump on the competition by increasing sales and guarding against being left with summery stock when the autumn ranges are delivered, the lower margins dent the profits against stock which would have sold anyway. I appreciate it’s like playing chicken with the market, but people like new things to wear on holiday; swimwear doesn’t last forever and trends move on. Styles go in and out of fashion so there’s no need to give it to them at a cut price. It’s a good time to maximise the money you make from all the shorts and vests because come August they’ll be in the Sale anyway. And who wants a bikini when the beach is a dim and distant memory?

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