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Indies flex payment terms to drive sales

Indies are introducing long-term payment programmes to help their customers manage their cash flow through the downturn.

Premium womenswear boutique Michelle B in Barrowford, Lancashire, launched a ‘Flexible Fashion Option’ at the start of this month, allowing customers to reserve items for eight weeks in return for a 10% non-returnable deposit.

Store owner Michelle Birkins said it had already driven a 10% uplift in sales. “We introduced it a bit late for autumn 10 but it is [still] making a massive difference.

“People are more cautious about spending on a big bulk [of items] in one go but they know we are a small boutique and only carry a few of each item, so if they don’t [reserve] the one they want, they risk losing it. It has caused us to sell more outfits than individual pieces,” she told Drapers.

Meanwhile, premium womenswear indie Eternal Envy Boutique in Heaton Moor, Cheshire, has started letting customers pay for higher-cost items like coats and leather jackets over the period of around a month.

Owner Maria Telfs said: “People asked for it. We haven’t advertised [the service] but it’s working out well for us. When people use it they generally want the item quite quickly.”

Earlier this year, young fashion boutique 25 Ten in Rochdale introduced Reserve It, a scheme that allows customers to reserve pieces for six weeks for a 20% deposit and to pay the balance in weekly instalments. Items that are not paid for are returned to stock, with the payments forfeited.

Co-owner Kelly Turner-Mitchell told Drapers: “It pushes up the spend of repeat customers because every time they come in to make a payment they spot another item.”

Co-owner Paul Turner-Mitchell added that the deposit scheme gives indies an advantage over multiples and department stores that don’t generally allow long-term reservations.

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