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Independent fashion retailers sum up sunny Easter trading

Tom Bottomley
24 April 2019

Leading independent fashion retailers talk to TheIndustry.fashion about trading and their best-performing products and brands during what was one of the hottest Easter weekends on record.

Henry Threadingham

Henry Threadingham

Henry Threadingham, director, Curated Man, Richmond, Surrey

“Trading was not as good as it should have been. We missed our previous year’s targets throughout. We were actually about 20% down on last Easter. Those customers that did come through spent solidly, but there were just far fewer people through the door.Thursday was one of our best days, though Good Friday and Saturday really let us down. We were busy, but we were expecting to be rushed off our feet.

It was almost like the weather was too nice! With such a sudden heat wave, who wants to shop when you can spend time in the sun? Richmond is a beautiful spot for picnics in the park and riverside drinks, so other than the Tesco’s booze aisles, shops were pretty quiet despite the town being packed.

"There was also a new found enthusiasm for bold print short sleeve shirts."

The mood of the customers that did come through the door certainly seemed to have improved – good weather puts everyone in a good mood. There was also a new found enthusiasm for bold print short sleeve shirts. Hartford is one of our best summer brands, they do an excellent job at simple classics like linen shirts and lightweight fabrics.

This season overall has been strong. We’ve just re-fit our ground floor, having done our upper floor last year, and it’s really lifted the shop back to where it should be. Despite the little Easter disappointment, we’re having a good time this year so far and we’re confident for the rest of the season.”

Jonny George

Jonny George

Jonny George, buyer, Elements, Norwich

“Trading over Easter was certainly good for us. Throughout the whole period footfall was steady. It was constant throughout, which was great and we were fortunate that the football didn't really affect us, as Easter kick offs were later. Norwich are going for promotion back to the Premiership, so there’s a bit of a buzz about the place.

Trading was also obviously boosted by the warm weather. With a whole store now kitted out with SS19 stock, the weather prompts and tempts customers. It definitely created a feelgood factor through the Easter period, and I found that the people coming into the store were wanting to spend, not just browsing.

"I found that the people coming into the store were wanting to spend, not just browsing."

It seemed to kick-start the spring/summer season into action. Our core brands such as Farah, Lyle & Scott, Fila and Ellesse all performed well throughout, alongside Guess Jeans. To be honest, we always gauge Easter as the start to our spring/summer season. Again, the weather was a big factor in having a good selling period as people come out to buy. Compared to last Easter figures were pretty much the same. Both this year, and Easter 2018, were good periods for us.

Looking ahead we are cautiously positive. When the footfall is good, then the store performs well, because we do have a good conversion rate when people come in. This is even more vital for spring/summer when ticket prices are not as high as in autumn/winter.”

Steve English

Steve English

Steve English, managing director, Cooshti, Bristol

“Looking at the figures, Easter trading was fairly average overall. It was a bit better than last year, but Easter fell earlier than usual in 2018 – at the end of March, and it was much colder. This time around it was best on Thursday and Good Friday, but it was quiet in the store on Saturday. We closed for Easter Sunday, as most retailers did, and then we found it was quiet again on Easter Monday.

"People were obviously preparing themselves for what was widely known as going to be a sunny and warm Easter weekend."

I don’t think trading was particularly boosted by the good weather, as people tend to get out of the city, do outdoor pursuits or go drinking in the sunshine! Trading was actually decent in the run up to the Easter weekend though, so people were obviously preparing themselves for what was widely known as going to be a sunny and warm Easter weekend. Brands that have performed well for us so far this season are Stüssy, Nike, Parlez, Guess and Daily Paper.

This year we prepared for a sluggish spring/summer based on last year's spring/ summer pre-Sale figures, and the general mood – including Brexit fears. We over bought stock for last spring/summer, and we had to put a lot in the Sale. So, we bought less for this season, and the strategy has resulted in a slight decrease in sales on last summer to date, but a better percentage sell-through so far.”

Phil Goodfellow

Phil Goodfellow

Phil Goodfellow, co-owner, Northern Threads, South Shields

“Easter trading has been very good. The stars aligned for us! The weather was good and I think people were due a bit of a blow-out. We also had a lot of holidaymakers in the area and we were up on last year’s Easter. Mind you, that was when we had the Beast from the East! Also, I think everyone is just so sick of the whole Brexit thing that they’ve decided to start spending some money again.

We did have a little bit of a Sale this time though, as did a lot of our competitors. If you looked on Instagram is was full of Easter shop promotions. We just knocked 20% off the stuff that hasn’t really performed this season.

"We did have a little bit of a Sale this time though, as did a lot of our competitors. If you looked on Instagram is was full of Easter shop promotions."

I’d say that Easter definitely kick-started our spring/summer season, which it needed to as the summer season is short. Last year, everyone went on Sale mid-June, so from the end of April you’ve only really got six weeks left of full-price trading.

It has got tougher in general. We had to close our other store around the corner called Edit in January and lose about 14 brands. In Northern Threads We sell the likes of C.P. Company, Polo Ralph Lauren, five different tiers of Hugo Boss, Armani, Gant, Fred Perry, Ted Baker, Aquascutum, Paul & Shark and Napapijri. We looked at sell-throughs and just picked the best 25 performing brands, which really appeal to the football terrace lads.

We have to try to differentiate ourselves from the likes of Flannels, which has gone a bit more top-end with the likes of Gucci and Givenchy. They now have stores in the Metro Centre in Gateshead, as well as in Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough now – so we’re surrounded by them!

There’s also a Tessuti in the Metro Centre that we have to compete with, and it makes it difficult for us to get any leverage to get new brands in. I can’t have Paul Smith, Stone Island, Kenzo, Moncler or Canada Goose – all brands we regularly get asked for, which is frustrating. It seems like some of the bigger brands just don’t want to deal with the small independents anymore.”

Rob Adams

Rob Adams

Rob Adams, menswear buyer, The Hambledon, Winchester

“We only opened on Good Friday and the Saturday over Easter, we closed on Easter Sunday and Monday. We can only really work on a year-on-year basis, and Easter fell a lot earlier last year. We had that crazy, freezing cold Beast from the East weather to contend with last time, so trading last Easter was actually pretty grim.

"Menswear isn’t rocket science. If the weather does what it’s meant to at this time of year, then men respond and buy."

This year we were blessed with the warm weather and, I think because people knew it was going to be good, they could forward plan a little, which meant that people kind of came out with intent. I sold a lot of shorts and a lot of T-shirts. Menswear isn’t rocket science. If the weather does what it’s meant to at this time of year, then men respond and buy. In terms of footfall, it was okay, but the conversion rate was excellent. Good Friday was very strong for us, and I was pleasantly surprised that we had a good Saturday, because I wrongly assumed that people would just decamp from the city and disappear for the entire weekend.

To be honest, we’ve had a really good April in general. We’ve been consistently up on the year each week. People seem to be happily spending money, rather than begrudgingly spending it. They are coming in and buying two or three bits, where as in last year’s first quarter they were just coming in and buying one thing. People seem to be enjoying it a bit more.

Brand-wise, it’s our second season with Danton, and that has been fantastic for us. They do great shorts and T-shirts and lovely cotton pop-over shirts. Adsum has also been strong, Carhartt is brilliant and we’ve just started working with Gramicci from Japan and that’s been really well received as well. It’s all legwear, so Japanese climbing trousers and shorts. It’s pretty cool. I’m very pleased with all the new arrivals. Nothing is sitting here and not earning its keep at the moment.”

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