Many kidswear indies have been forced to start their summer Sales early to kick-start trade, after seeing little respite from challenging trading conditions in the sector.
In Drapers’ latest Indicator poll of the kidswear sector, almost half of those polled said business was worse than during the same week last year. Takings were down 1.3% among those selling kidswear for nought to four-year-olds, while takings were flat year on year among indies selling clothing for five to 12-year-olds.
Trade was held up by strong performances at a small number of indies, while others saw sales fall by up to 20% compared with last year.
Lisa Crawshaw, manager of designer kidswear store Butterflies in Wakefield, said trade had been quiet for the past six months. “People don’t want to spend on something nice, they want throwaway fashion,” she said.
Billy Coysh, owner of Glasgow kidswear boutique Kids Plus, said sales held up over the first quarter of the calendar year but dropped off by about 20% over the past three to four months. Coysh said the top end of the market was “no longer a priority”.
Kidswear indies have been hit hard by the success of supermarkets and value retailers in the category. Brighton kidswear boutique Cat & Mouse went into a half-price Sale four weeks earlier than usual. “We need to get money in to pay the bills,” said co-owner Hayley Jones.
Janette Reed, owner and founder of Cotswold Kids, which sells clothes for nought to eight-year-olds,
estimated she had reduced her budgets by about 35% over the past two years. She added that she had reduced the age range of the shop’s product from an upper limit of 14 and would stop stocking brands including Quiksilver, Ben Sherman and O’Neill and instead shift emphasis towards gifts and toys.