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Summer heatwave affects winter sales

By FashionUnited


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e Brits are not likely to complain about the late summer weather, with more sunshine in September than in July. But for retailers it is a different story, and shifting winter clothing such as expensive outerwear, is proving

less popular than the same time last year on the trading calendar.

The UK heatwave, which is expected to continue into the weekend, is causing havoc amongst store groups desperate to shift more expensive autumn and winter merchandise such as coats and knitwear.

Leading retailers are up in arms as such poor trading is going to see a heavy build up of winter merchandise. One senior retail executive said that unseasonably warm weather could dent one week’s sales from stores open at least a year by 5 per cent for a retailer geared towards items such as T-shirts, and up to 15 per cent for a group with more suits and coats. However, he stressed that this was just one week’s trading, which accounted for about 2 per cent of annual sales.

her experienced retailer said the situation would become critical if the recent high temperatures continued, say until the end of next week. “Every week going though October you are on an escalator right the way through to Christmas, and if you miss the first couple of steps, what happens is the markdown just rockets,” he said. Nick Bubb, analyst at Arden Partners, expected John Lewis’s sales to have been hit by the weather on Saturday, and for this trend to continue into this week, while the heatwave coincided with significant trading weeks at Marks and Spencer.

If womenswear in particular was particularly suffering, menswear is actually holding up better. But this halt in trading comes as Marc Bolland, chief executive, of M&S is pushing through a shake-up of its clothing and beginning a £600m store revamp.

M&S said it could not comment on current trading and would announce its second quarter sales with its interim results on November 8. Analysts at UBS are forecasting a 15 per cent decline in M&S’s first half pre-tax profit, from £349m to £298m.

Image: Gucci Summer 2011