Early summer sales causing havocThursday, 23 June 2011
It comes as struggling stores are desperate to turn around a slump in takings with figures showing a 2.2% fall in spending compared to May, last year. Debenhams led the way starting with a half price sale straight off, forcing others such as House of Fraser to follow suit. It seems to be causing a divide amongst retailers who either are determined to hold out until the standard July date or others following the big lead retailers. It obviously isn’t helping small independents; many of whom are calling for the Government to put in certain sale periods. Debenhams, deputy chief executive, Michael Sharp, says, ‘This summer our biggest ever half price sale will offer thousands of lines at great reductions in store and online. Our sales move will clearly be welcomed by customers.’
It comes as in recent days, Jane Norman, the fashion retailer with more than 200 stores, has been put up for sale by its banks following a period of poor trading. And independent retailers are struggling against the policies of the department stores. Mark Howard, owner of Disorder in Birmingham is an outspoken advocate of Government regulation to stop multiples from discounting outside of certain restricted Sale dates.
He says: “Sales and continuous discounting are detrimental to independents. The high street in recent years is in constant sales mode, they keep dumping stock at huge quantities. Why do they over order, when they know realistically they will not be able to sell it all?”
Howard even goes as far as arguing that the authorities should regulate the volume of stock coming in to UK shops and penalize stores which deliberately over order.
“It’s a tricky concept but we need mechanisms to start creating some sort of a level playing field, as opposed to the current situation of 'free for all.' [Some] high street shops order in huge bulk quantities knowing full well that most of it will be discounted.”
Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said the evidence of a slump in sales in May offers a ‘realistic reflection of how tough conditions on the high street really are’.