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Department stores force angry indies into early Sales

Premium independents have been forced to fire the starting gun on their summer Sales up to four weeks early to compete with high-end department stores.

Indies told Drapers they had altered their Sale strategies in reaction to the likes of Selfridges, Debenhams and Harvey Nichols, which brought their Sales forward to this week to allow a return to full-price merchandise ahead of the lucrative pre-Ramadan shopping period. The move has angered indies, which claim the trade is unnecessarily throwing away income.

Premium Liverpool indie Boudoir Boutique has brought forward its Sale to June 21 from mid July. Owner Louise Kavanagh said: “All the major high street retailers follow [the department stores] like lambs to the slaughter. Once consumers are targeted with Sales campaigns it forces your hand.”

Fifi Wilson, which has three premium womenswear stores in London, went on Sale on Tuesday. Owner Fi Lovett said: “We are led by the department stores. If we dig our heels in we’ll have an empty shop for the next fortnight.”

Pamela Shiffer, owner of the eponymous two-store London premium womenswear indie, said she would hold out until July but branded the early Sales as “criminal”.
Department store discounting was a hot topic at menswear trade show Pitti Uomo in Florence this week. The opening mood there was generally positive. However, the bulk of those attending were international buyers rather than from the UK.

However, John Lewis, House of Fraser and indies including Southeast mini chain Choice and Sarah Coggles in York were present.

See next week’s issue of Drapers for a full report from Pitti Uomo.

Readers' comments (1)

  • it really is getting crazier than ever - sales starting before the season has kicked in!
    Will this mean that we will have Winter sales in October?
    Who now buys into seasonal product when they can get their shorts half price in July and August and their winter coat in January?

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