Independent retailers have hit out at brands for offloading current season stock through discount etail sites, in the same week that leading clearance site Brand Alley was criticised by the advertising watchdog for misleading ads.
Indies expressed anger at the growing amount of current season branded stock being sold by discount etailers and said they were left unable to compete on price.
The owner of one womenswear indie told Drapers: “How can I trust my suppliers? They ask me for loyalty and repay me by offloading current stock.” She added: “The days of the indie are numbered if there cannot be some kind of benchmark on retailing seasonal merchandise.”
Another womenswear indie said: “Suppliers that walk all over indies are on the road to ruin.”
However, brands argued they had been forced to choose the discount route as they contend with turbulent trading conditions.
Bunty Stokes, UK country sales manager for invite-only discount etailer Vente-privee, said: “We are members-only and do not advertise openly which brands we work with. When people shout about their discounts it is likely to upset the apple cart. Doing it more discreetly protects the brand and does not cannibalise full-price sales.”
The criticism of Brand Alley by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) came after a complaint from rival branded discount etailer M and M Direct, which argued Brand Alley had misled shoppers over the level of discount offered.
The ad claimed Brand Alley offered savings of up to 80% off designer brands, but the ASA found it couldn’t be proven that at least 10% of items were available at that level at that time.
Brand Alley said it accepted the ruling and told Drapers it had not intentionally misled the public. It added that although Brand Alley often offers discounts of more than 80%, its Sales only last for a few days, making it harder to quantify.