As department stores launch price-slashing early summer Sales, smaller independents have vowed to hold out until mid-July.
Harrods, Liberty, Selfridges, Debenhams and House of Fraser are among retailers that kicked off their Sales last week, offering discounts of up to 70% on clothes. Premium indies Matches and Coggles have succumbed to summer Sale fever, leaving only the smaller independents to stand their ground until later in the season.
Karl Wood, founder of Evesham-based indie Pride Menswear, said: “The big boys go first, the bigger indies follow and drag everyone else into it and that is the way it goes nowadays.”
Wood called for brands to take a stand on prices, with the aim of protecting their smaller stockists and preserving their brand values. “If they were to say to people, ‘we don’t want you to put this product on sale until this date’, that would eliminate a lot of the problems.”
Ian Hopkins, co-founder of young fashion indie Pulp is holding out - as usual - until mid-July, “when the kids break up because we sell to a younger customer.” He said: “Some other stores have been doing summer sales with 50% to 70% off, but that just devalues their brands in the long term. Instead, we’ve been running offers throughout the year, doing three-for-twos and giving away free wristbands with purchases. That makes a massive difference.”
Wood complains that the poor summer weather had led to low sales on summer clothing, particularly on shorts and t-shirts. It is currently offering a free pair of Havaianas flip-flops with the purchase of two pairs of shorts. “People have this false conception of when the summer season actually is – we should all be going on sale much later, and stocking summer gear later than we do, as people are still going on holiday in August. They don’t want autumn clothing until autumn.”
Contemporary womenswear indie The Dressing Room in St Albans cited customer service as a motivation for sticking to its usual sale launch date in July. “We think it is important to keep the same dates for reliability – a lot of our customers are very loyal and we want to give them the impression that going on sale at the same time we always do is right for us,” said a spokeswoman for the retailer.