The fashion trade is currently facing major challenges. High inflation, the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine and the ongoing consequences of the corona pandemic are combined with rising energy prices. Almost every day, the media and studies report that consumer spending is sluggish and that people are worried about a possible recession. At the same time, the pre-Christmas period begins and with it the normally lucrative Christmas business. But what about this year?
To capture a snapshot of the current mood in fashion retail, FashionUnited asked Düsseldorf-based fashion retailer Peek & Cloppenburg, southern Germany-based fashion and sports company Reischmann, Swiss department store chain Manor and Cologne-based concept store Apropos what their hopes, concerns and goals for the near future and which items are selling particularly well six weeks before Christmas
Retail is currently facing major challenges, how is your business going at the moment?
Peter Eberle, Managing Director at Reischmann: Our sales development is well below expectations, which were quite high given the relatively good development in the fourth quarter of 2021.
P&C: The Peek & Cloppenburg KG concept works despite the current and past challenges. However, it remains to be seen how the important final quarter will affect the overall balance sheet.
Manor: With the current inflation, price sensitivity is indeed noticeable at the moment. Customers are paying more attention to discounts and planning larger purchases in a targeted manner. Customers therefore appreciate the opportunity to benefit from various attractive promotions in November all the more. So Manor constantly adapts its offer to the demand. Various promotions will be offered in department stores and online in November. On our website manor.ch, which includes a marketplace with more than 130 partners and 300,000 products to complement the Manor offer, interest in Christmas gifts starts to increase in October. Sales remain high until Christmas.
Henning Korb, Managing Partner of Apropos: We are satisfied with the current figures and were able to close October above the previous year’s results. Of course, we also see a lower frequency and are increasingly working on appointments with regular customers. For this reason, it is primarily the entry-level price range that is suffering at the moment.
Which items are currently selling well and not so well?
Reischman: We are generally faced with a certain reluctance to buy, which relates to many groups of articles. It is currently particularly difficult in areas that are also affected by supply chain problems, such as some sports areas, but also various product groups or suppliers in the fashion segment.
P&C: Light knitwear, sweat jackets, flannel shirts and T-shirts in heavy qualities are currently doing very well with men. Demand for overshirts, on the other hand, has leveled off. Outdoors, especially warmer jackets, are not in such high demand due to the weather. With temperatures getting colder, increased demand is expected. Until the end of October, there was an unprecedented variety of colors (beige/earth tones, light red, light green and various shades of blue) in the occasion (suit/shirt/tie) category Example in the form of a turtleneck and also in winter qualities made of wool. Norwegian designs and cable patterns are doing very well. When it comes to blouses, it’s mainly the “classics” (Oxford blouses, blouses with shirt collars or stand-up collars), but there’s also a lot of demand for winter plaid looks. Clothes, on the other hand, are currently falling short of expectations. There is a trend towards fabric trousers for both sexes, for example chinos and jersey jogging pants.
Manor: In terms of fashion, Manor offers a wide range of elegant or casual clothing throughout the year, depending on how you want to party. The trend is towards evening wear that can also be worn on occasions other than Christmas. This range is supplemented by festive clothing, especially in November. What is very popular at Christmas, both for yourself and as a gift, are the cashmere items – sweaters, vests, pants.
How do you prepare for the upcoming Christmas business? What do you expect from the pre-Christmas period?
Reischman: Since Corona, it has become even clearer that the majority of customers buy more needs-based. With the temperatures now lower, we are assuming that we will achieve our target figures in the run-up to Christmas. The current discussions in the cities about bans on Christmas lights, to further depress the already “battered” mood, bothers us massively and we would like the municipalities to proceed moderately here. Usually, all of this lighting is now LED-based, so the power consumption is not worth mentioning.
P&C: In November, Peek & Cloppenburg heralds the start of the Christmas season. This year everything is under the motto “Merry Memories” – the campaign tells stories about an unforgettable Christmas with friends and family.
The fourth quarter is of particular importance for the entire fashion trade, so P&C is focusing with many promotions to invite and inspire customers to find the perfect outfit and gifts for the upcoming occasions.
Manor: It’s still too early to take stock of Christmas and already know exactly what the most popular items are. We have a large selection of products for our customers for the festive days in the 4th quarter. It is very important to us that our customers are satisfied and find many attractive offers.
Speaking of: All stores are being converted to Christmas these days. Despite the energy crisis, an atmospheric decoration is of course essential, but everything with care. We hope that we can inspire our customers again this year and at least for a moment suggest a feeling of a perfect world, that’s what fashion is actually there for.
Are you currently worried?
Reischman: Worries are not good advisors. We consider the situation to be particularly challenging. If the sales development in the industry does not improve in the next few months, there will again be dramatic goods overhangs in Germany, as was the case during the Corona period. That would then have a massive impact on the order budgets for HW23.
Speaking of: The world situation is what it is and we have to deal with it. We are therefore in the fortunate position of not having any acute concerns. Our biggest challenge at the moment is the new project in Berlin. However, this is more about positive stress than it concerns us.
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