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Hopes are high for colder winter to warm up sales

Retailers are praying for chilly weather this winter, after a promising start to sales for the season, with many pinning their hopes on ankle boots, autumnal knitwear and outerwear.

Hash Ladha, chief operating officer at Oasis, said autumn’s success would depend on the weather and how quickly spring 13 stock is cleared.

However, he added: “[Early] reaction to autumn stock is incredibly promising – we’ve got some great transition pieces such as sleeveless tops and light fabric tops in autumn colours, which are working really well.”

Paula Reed, fashion director at Harvey Nichols, said autumn sales had got off to a “tremendous start”, with all categories showing a positive increase on last year.

Knitwear and outerwear have had a “great reaction” so far, said Asos womenswear buying director Emma Fox. “These departments have actually been performing well throughout the summer and we will continue to back outerwear in a big way through autumn. Boots are also seeing strong initial reactions which we are excited about as we have plenty of new styles still to come through,” she said.

My-Wardrobe.com also experienced a strong start for ankle boots this season, with sales of premium brand Acne’s Pistol and Colt styles increasing 150% week on week in the last fortnight.

Maureen O’Brien, creative and buying director at womenswear retailer Joy, said dresses are still “in the number one spot”, but she increased the chain’s buy of separates considerably for this season.

“We’ve really worked hard to nail some great-fitting trousers and the news from the stores has been very positive,” said O’Brien. “We are also having a very good reaction to all transitional product. Knitwear and coats haven’t really started to sell in the South although they are in our stores in Scotland.”

Men’s entry-price formal footwear is selling well at Jones Bootmaker. Managing director Andrew White said there was a “pick-up in more daring styles” as male customers are “more willing to invest in colour.”

White added: “The timing could go against us for Christmas. Last year the holiday period suited us perfectly but some of the split from week 52 might go into week one of next year.

“My gut feeling is that autumn discounting won’t go early this year. Last year we went on Sale at the end of November but assuming we have a good October, I want to push that back to December,” White said.

My-Wardrobe.com head of merchandising Amy Montague said it had been an “interesting start” to autumn, with the warmer weather proving challenging in planning winter stock.

She added: “It’s terrible to say that I’m willing on the colder weather, but for any retailer it is important that the seasons follow as intended. Now we are excited about the colder weather so we can really showcase and sell our fantastic winter collections.”

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