Your browser is no longer supported. For the best experience of this website, please upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

House of Fraser and Debenhams set to trigger flurry of early Sales

Department stores’ decision to move forward summer Sales could force other retailers to follow suit.

Department store chains House of Fraser and Debenhams are set to spark a promotional chain reaction on the high street by kicking off their summer Sales up to a week earlier than last year.

As many retailers contend with some of the worst sales figures seen this year, Debenhams and HoF will go on Sale on Thursday, forcing many to follow suit and placing margins under more pressure.

Fashion sales have been in the doldrums in the past two weeks as the feel-good factor felt over the sunny April bank holiday and the royal wedding period has worn off.

According to figures from BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker, fashion sales fell 10.4% in the week ending May 29. Within that, clothing sales slumped 11.2% and footwear sales dropped 4.9%. The performance was fashion’s worst so far this year, impacted by the strong comparisons from last year when scorching weather boosted sales.

The recent cooler weather is thought to have added to retailers’ woes as they contend with fragile consumer confidence. But the decision by Debenhams and HoF to go on Sale early is not thought to be a response to poor trading. Department stores fare better in poorer weather than their high street counterparts. HoF said this week that like-for-likes rose 4.1% in the 17 weeks to May 28.

During Debenhams and HoF’s Sale period, John Lewis will honour its ‘never knowingly undersold’ price promise. Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group, which includes Dorothy Perkins, Burton and Topshop, is expected to launch a 30% off seasonal promotion tomorrow. The group’s full Sale is thought to be slated to start on June 18. No comment was available from Marks & Spencer.

One high street retailer said that while he would not go on Sale next week, he had brought it forward by 10 days from July to clear poor-selling stock. He said: “Trade has been crap and I expect it to continue to be bad until the end of June. April was good but wasn’t good enough.”

He added that the underlying issue did not relate to poor product in stores: “We had a major April and we had the same product in stores then as we have in May.”

A womenswear fashion chief said last week’s fall-off in sales could also be attributed to shoppers waiting for summer Sales to start. He said: “Consumers are so promotionally driven. It could herald the end of the traditional Sale seasons as shoppers look for markdown at all times.”

One department store boss said: “I don’t know many people who are doing well. You have to follow [Debenhams and HoF]. They are big enough to lead the market.”

It is unclear how many of the concessionaires in both Debenhams and HoF will join in the Sale activity or, if they do, whether they will extend it to their standalone stores.

Michael Rahamim, chairman of womenswear chain Phase Eight, which has concessions in HoF and Debenhams, said he would go on Sale at the end of June as planned.

Luxury department stores Harvey Nichols and Harrods will go on Sale on similar days to last year, on June 14 and June 18 respectively.

Readers' comments (6)

  • Perfect timing. Just when the sun is starting to shine again. Indies be strong. Don't give your stock and your margins away. Going forward, dare to be different and don't stock the labels the stores do.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Debenhams always bottle it and HOF aren't much better. They always blame poor figures, but they will go on sale regardless of what their figures are. Poor short sighted management, which in this industry seems to get you places...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • It seems that most stores are in sale or promotion most of the year. Sales do not have the impact they did in the past beacause of this, Profit shouldn't be a crime.... why we have to give everything away all the time is a travesty. The customer has been educated to basically not buy at full price, ever. The multiples are certainly to blame for this.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • its a catch 22 situation for all, independent retailers selling the same collections as big store groups/multiples and vice versa and worse the so called brands that will now take an order from anybody with a till/website whilst thinking they are the coolest thing on the blogsphere not standing up to the retailer/website that has been discount their collections since the season began (15% off all new seasons stock at one "indie" website) on the 4th of march (we hadn't even finished our sale at that point) mind you it was -8 degrees no wonder no one wanted shorts and espadrilles ,then another promotion of 20% off the next month and now they tell us that they are sticking to their plan of going on sale mid june (hopefully they plan things a bit better next time!) I could go on however it is the same thing year after year . no wonder the banks don't take this trade seriously we go on sale at the hottest and coldest times of the year and have tshirts in the store in January and furcoats in store in August .

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • You have to wonder sometimes how this trade survives...?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • lets hope these two sell out of weather appropriate merchandise and spend a scorching july and august trying to sell boots and heavy knitwear while solid independents make hay

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.