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Young fashion trade heats up ahead of midsummer Sales

Young fashion independents and multiples have painted a positive trading picture six weeks into the summer season, with most not planning to go on Sale until the start of July.

The majority of retailers contacted by Drapers said that poor comparables due to last summer's football World Cup had meant that sales were up compared with the same time last year. Strong trends and good weather had also boosted takings.

The boss of one large young fashion multiple added that while trade was still positive, it had dropped off in the past couple of weeks. "We had a fantastic start to the season with our best first quarter figures ever, up 28%," he said. "It has dipped a little recently, but is still 14% up. The weather has been up and down and people are worried about interest rates."

Debbie Lee, buyer for four-store south London young fashion independent Bullfrogs, said she expected to go on Sale in two weeks' time. "We are up on last year, and in terms of our Sale we'll go on when the big boys do. They dictate our Sales and we expect to start in the first week of July. That's what shoppers expect, so they begin to stop spending towards the end of June."

However, department store chain Debenhams is going on Sale next week, more than two weeks earlier than last year, with rival House of Fraser expected to follow on June 28.

The department store sector is planning to discount less this summer than in previous years. HoF is set to cut its Sale period down to four weeks from five in a bid to clean out before the first autumn deliveries at the end of July. Debenhams is to cut the number of promotional days at its stores.

Norrie Stewart, boss of value chain Internaaionale, said he expected some high street chains to go on Sale earlier this year to clear stock that failed to shift after poor weather in late May. He added that Internaaionale will go on Sale at the end of this month.

Feminine trends such as maxi dresses and shift dresses have led the way on women's sales, while neon brights, safari and printed shorts and slogan T-shirts are selling well in menswear.

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