Womenswear independents heading to London trade shows Pure and Scoop this weekend have been forced to cut their spring 17 budgets following a difficult start to the summer.
Independents are still expected to be out in force as the buying season continues, but many Drapers spoke to said they would be erring on the side of caution after consumer confidence plummeted to a 21-year low following the Brexit vote. This has compounded sales that struggled in the cool and wet weather in June.
Victoria Rex, co-founder of The Women’s Society Boutique in Hertford, who is attending Pure and Scoop this season, revealed that her spring 17 budget would be down by about 10% on last year.
She hopes this will offset the impact of the weakness of sterling, which fell in value following the European Union referendum: “We buy European brands, so we’ll be cautious. Plus we’ve not had a great summer because of the weather.”
Karina Baldorf, owner of Kakao by K in Edinburgh, who plans to visit both shows, said she would cut her budget by around 15% compared with last year.
“I’ll be spending a little less. Our budget was already smaller compared with autumn/winter, which is a stronger season for us. But this season the sales have not really been there. We have a lot more stock left and even the Sale isn’t moving it.
”We had a slow start and it took a bit longer to get the nicer weather and now people are on holiday. We’re relying on tourists [for sales].”
Lauren Ferguson, owner of Sisters Boutique in Falkirk, who plans to attend Pure, said her budget is “way down” this year: “Because of the state of my town centre, footfall is awful – trade is dire. I’m terrified about the buying season. Trade is the worst I’ve known it in 20 years. The Scottish government is in denial about how bad Scotland’s finances are, my council is hopeless and the future is very worrying.”
Conversely, ahead of visiting Scoop next weekend, Renate Beaumont, owner of Vanilla in Oxford, brushed off any concerns: “I don’t think I’ll be affected as much as other shops. While we’re not high end – we’re in the middle and my customers are wealthy ladies.”
On her buying trips, Beaumont said she would look for trans-seasonal items.
Rex said she would be on the hunt for more “dressier, wedding and occasion brands” for spring 17: “That market is so tricky.”
Despite the backdrop, Baldorf said she was excited about the shows: “Trade fairs are good for confirming trends.”
Pure London and Scoop will be held at Olympia London and Old Billingsgate Market respectively on July 24-26.
Drapers editor Keely Stocker will chair a panel discussion at Pure about the political, economic and industry implications of the UK’s exit from the European Union. It will take place at 11am on Monday July 25.