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Fashion sales melt in Indian summer

Fashion retailers felt the full impact of the Indian summer last week as sales plummeted to their lowest level for more than two and a half years.

According to the BDO High Street Sales Tracker for the week to October 2, total fashion sales dropped an alarming 13.3%, the worst fall since heavy snow hit sales in February 2009.

Simon Poole, managing director of men’s young fashion brand Luke, said: “It has come at the worst time for our customers. All they were selling was tail-end summer product to the detriment of all the new autumn product.”

Michael Ziff, chief executive of footwear chain Barratts, said it was not his worst week on record but described it as “awful”.

Harrods managing director Michael Ward said menswear trading was particularly tough. “If a man decides to buy a coat he needs a reason to buy it, but women have a passion for apparel,” he said.

However, House of Fraser chairman Don McCarthy said its Brand Spectacular promotion brought in customers, so it had not suffered as much as others. But he added: “It wasn’t easy for us.”

Others benefited from sales of more summery stock. John Scofield, head of merchandising at Harvey Nichols, said sales held up. “We had a great week on menswear with Ralph Lauren polo shirts,” he said.

Mark Bage, co-owner of York premium indie Sarah Coggles, said in-store sales were “dramatically higher”. “Despite the hot temperatures we found our female customers were worried that sizes of the top autumn styles were going to sell out. Ironically we sold a lot of ladies’ winter boots and performance coats.”

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