As the festive period fades into the memory of Christmases past and we stride confidently into the New Year, fashion retailers across the UK will be hoping to leave much of the uncertainty of 2016 firmly behind them. But what resolutions would fashion retailers like to make for 2017? Let’s take a look at the UK fashion retailers’ hopes for the year ahead.
1. Fewer sales and more full-price
One of the biggest trends in 2016 was the vicious cycle of discounting that emerged from the widespread uncertainty and the many challenges retailers faced. The combination of over-buying, fierce competition and unseasonable weather led to the appearance of more of those red ‘sales’ signs than ever before.
Of course, sales will always have a part to play in fashion retail, helping to clear end-of-season stock and selectively attracting customers, but the pre-season, mid-season and all-season sales of 2016 have to stop. Consumers are starting to see sales as the norm and only part with their cash for discounted goods. This not only has an impact on margins, but also damages brand reputation and makes life increasingly difficult for all.
2. Business rates reform
With dwindling profit margins on the high street, retailers across the UK are calling for a long overdue business rates reform. Following the revaluation of rateable values, business rates in some London districts are set to rise by as much as 400 percent. The estimates show London businesses will have to pay £885 million more annually, which is an increase retailers simply can’t afford.
In a year when economic growth is set to slow, and inflation is set to soar to 4 percent by the end of 2017, this disproportionate business rates rise could spell the end for some independent fashion retailers.
3. Quality products and innovative design
Innovation is never more important than it is in a challenging retail environment. When faced with an uncertain future and a testing economy, the temptation can be to play it safe, reduce risks and not spend money on developing new product lines.
However, the reality is that newness and excitement is the key to driving full price sales. Product innovation can help you standout in a crowded market place, protecting your margin and maintaining and even growing your market share.
4. An end to Brexit hysteria
If there is one thing fashion retailers would like above all else for the coming year, it has to be an end to Brexit hysteria. Despite continued warnings of impending economic doom from the press, the facts are that the economy is faring well and the high street is holding its own. However the landscape is going to look once article 50 has been triggered in March, consumers will still spend their money and retailers will continue to work hard to maintain and increase their market share.
The truth is that business rate rises are likely to have far more of an impact on independent fashion retailers, certainly in the shorter term, than any Brexit hokum that may or may not materialise. If only the press could refrain from their sensationalist ways then the global markets will be left to run smoothly, the pound will slowly bounce back, and retailers – both British and international – will continue to invest in the UK.
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