After weeks of alarmingly weak sales, many in the industry are pinning their hopes on driving some revenue over the upcoming Bank Holiday. Our headline Promotional Index is 62% – the proportion of companies across all the retail sectors currently carrying price promotions. This is up from 57% last week. Within this number, fashion is up from 50% to 57% week on week, and department stores from 30% to 67%.
Among the fashion players, Dorothy Perkins is offering up to 30% off everything (including dresses, tops, shoes, swim, holiday). Wallis and Laura Ashley are also offering up to 30% off everything, while Warehouse is up to 20% off everything. Some are already discounting new ranges and collections. Karen Millen have 20% off on their spring edit this week and Monsoon are offering 30% off spring dresses. Peacocks have 20% off spring picks and The White Company have 30% off summer clothing.
Department stores have jumped on the May Day bank holiday promotional bandwagon. HoF have gone into a ‘Brand Event’ offering up to 30% off and John Lewis are offering to price match competitors. Debenhams are promoting a ‘New Season Spectacular’ with up to 25% across all departments. Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Liberty all maintain full prices.
In marked contrast, the footwear sector has moved in the opposite direction. Four weeks ago our Promotional Index for footwear stood at 56%. It has trended progressively down in the weeks since and is currently at 25%. Clarks and Office both have run promotions throughout this period, while most of their key competitors have resisted.
The very weak ONS retail sales numbers for March were a warning. April has been much worse. Apart from not having Easter this year, demand in April has been weaker still and a growing number of retailers are wondering what to do. Having pressed the price button and seen no response, they feel helpless. To a degree, everyone is in the same boat. However, this is not democratic and some brands are far better able too deal with this than others.