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Why like-for-likes give me the blues

Like-for-like comparisons – they’re a retail obsession, along with the weather. Unfortunately, given the volatile nature of the latter, they are almost rendered meaningless.
This time last year I was in sandals as we enjoyed an all-too-brief spell of early summer weather (this being before the Biblical downpours); this year I haven’t so much as ventured into a peep toe, and not just because of the parlous state of my toenails. This being so, what exactly do retailers expect to learn by looking back? That things were so different we may as well have been on another planet, perhaps?

Yes, I know we need some form of yardstick to measure business performance, and given that we have no visibility ahead we can but hope history will provide consistent patterns that may help in our decision-making, and hopefully provide some solace.

But it is not just the meteorological climate that is different from last year. More crucially, the financial climate has changed dramatically too. Falling house prices, cancelled credit cards (or at least curtailed credit limits) and rising living costs mean shopping for clothes isn’t as high on the agenda as it may have been, particularly for the debt-laden over-35s.

This age group especially will need a very good reason to part with their cash in the coming months and, who would have thought it, the weather may just provide it. The Met Office has delivered its prognosis for summer, saying it will be warmer but wetter than average (although nothing like the soaking we got last year).

They could be wrong, but it gives us hope. And looking forward with hope has got to be better than looking back with a heavy heart.

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