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Satisfactory Easter for high street retailers

High street multiples recorded satisfactory trading over the crucial Easter weekend, with sales up in low single digits.

Multiple retailers contacted by Drapers said trading had improved on a soft Easter weekend last year but that womenswear had outperformed menswear.

Most said they had also come out of Easter in a controlled low stock position.

Good Friday was the strongest day of trading for most, but spending was largely driven by discounting.

New Look chief executive Carl McPhail said: “If you look at it year on year, the weather was bad on Thursday and Friday but we were OK and did budget for the week. We’re expecting better things this week. Stock levels are already very tight, which means we’re in a good position to react with the spring ranges.”

Matt Chambers, marketing director of department store House of Fraser, added: “Easter was good and the shopping centres performed particularly well. We’ve also got less stock than last year and we’re turning it quicker. Full-price sales are good too. Ecommerce performed well over the weekend.”

John Lewis director of selling operations David Barford said: “We’ve seen really strong trade in our shops and online throughout the week and delivered a strong Easter like-for-like performance. Good Friday, Saturday and Monday were especially busy. Fashion was strong across the board, and in addition poor weather drove better-than-expected sales in gloves, coats, outerwear and knitwear.”

However, the chairman of one multiple added: “The weather wasn’t very supportive. It was too cold and too wet and Easter fell early, so many schools had only just broken up.”

Retailers in London’s West End recorded a strong trading weekend, with sales slightly up on last year as two million shoppers converged on the area, according to The New West End Company, which promotes Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street.

Colin Wilding, UK country manager at designer outlet chain McArthurGlen, added: “We’ve experienced some very encouraging days of trading over the Easter weekend. Total footfall across all our centres was up this year, with some centres achieving double-digit footfall growth.”

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