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High street retailers face growing stock piles

Sophie Smith
28 November 2022

Warehouses operated by high street fashion retailers are "clogging up with unsold stock" as supply-chain challenges ease and shoppers rein in spending, according to The Times.

Marks & Spencer has reportedly asked suppliers to postpone deliveries to its warehouses and has delayed finalising orders for next year. Commenting on this, an M&S spokesperson said: "Sector wide, lead times are normalising post COVID-19 and this means, like other retailers, we are having to re-adjust stock flow."

Another high street retailer said that lead times for goods from east Asia had shortened to about seven weeks, compared with eleven over summer. The Times emphasised that this means retailers are still clearing last year’s delayed stock are receiving new stock quicker than expected, just as consumers tighten their belts.

The newspaper also reported that ASOS has £1.08 billion of unsold stock, a 34% increase on the year before.

NEXT, which makes 41% of its online sales on third-party brands, has returned stock to brands to free up space. The retailer said it had returned only a “very small” amount that it didn’t own and inventory was at planned levels.

Clothing suppliers to Tesco are also reportedly braced for delays in orders after the chain wrote to them to remind them of its stock holding policies, although a source close to the company denied this was linked to an excess of stock.

The news follows an increase in Black Friday sales on 26 November. With many retailers beginning their sales early, the volume of transactions in the lead up to the event also saw volumes of transactions up 3.46% week on week.

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