Last weekend we were out shopping for shorts, by mid week we were seeing umbrellas front and centre in store, and this weekend, well watch the skies to find out.
The weather is such a major influence on retail sales that we are surprised more retailers aren’t insulating themselves against its changeability. And it’s not just fashion. Marks and Spencer launched their Spirit of Summer range only weeks ago and will have basked in its success last weekend. This weekend, well it’s at 10% off for Sparks customers. Coincidence?
We have seen some highs and lows over the last two weeks in fashion; Next reported a damp start to the year coupled with slashing its full year guidance for the year, while Supergroup have bucked the trend and reported robust trading. Sainsburys also reported a very healthy growth in its clothing range, TU.
There are too many factors to categorically say why one retailer is trading better than another, but branding and seasonality must play a significant role.
SuperDry has invested heavily in its branding, marketing it as a global lifestyle brand, extending the range and hitting the right note with their core customer. It has core products that are available all year round. It also has limited ranges for high season. The global nature of SuperDry means that there is a constant need for short sleeved t-shirts somewhere in the world, so availability and stock management is easier albeit the stock could be in the wrong hemisphere.
TU at Sainsburys has built on the Gok label, appealing to the Sainsburys customer. But so has Next invested in brand, and extending its appeal with adding other branded goods to the Next Directory. Tu, with its space and range limitations in store will be more seasonal, jumpers giving way to beachwear. At pick up prices and knowing that stock doesn’t keep coming in, the customer is more likely to buy it when they see it and save it for later.
More at play?
There is one other factor to consider; Lord Wolfson at Next warned that there could be an underlying decline in clothing demand at play. Or a shift away from the middle ground perhaps? The grocers could be getting better at availability, fashion-ability and branding, and stealing some of the high street fashion sales.
Asda is reporting its Q1 next week and George has been at the forefront of grocer’s clothing offers for years. If we see a lift in George clothing sales, which will be highlighted particularly if grocery reports weak trading again, then could we be about to see another shift in the fashion landscape?