Home Retail Retailers hope busy shopping period will reduce stock filling up warehouses | Marks & Spencer

Retailers hope busy shopping period will reduce stock filling up warehouses | Marks & Spencer

by Ozva Admin

British retailers are hoping that one of the traditionally busiest shopping periods of the year will help reduce the amount of clothing filling stores after being surprised by improved delivery times from suppliers.

Marks & Spencer is among the big retailers that have found they are getting orders faster than expected, giving them an extra headache just as the UK economy braces for an expected downturn.

Discounted offers from Black Friday to cyber monday in recent years, they have boosted sales for some retailers over the period, and data collected so far indicates that numbers were up compared to last year, but down from 2019, before Covid disrupted the sector.

Richard Lim, chief executive of consultancy Retail Economics, said the industry was seeing “more discounts from more discount stores. That’s symptomatic of retailers carrying too much stock. It’s almost a perfect storm for retailers.”

he contrasted annual inflation of the consumer price index of 11.1% in October and a forecast of a long recession with the forecasts of the Bank of England in February, which showed a peak of only 7% and suggested that the economy would continue to grow.

“For many retailers, they are stuck with too much inventory,” he said. “Demand has taken a significant hit and inflation has risen much faster than expected.

“Black Friday is an opportunity to turn those shares into cash,” he added.

M&S has been forced to ask suppliers to postpone deliveries to its warehouses and has delayed the completion of orders to next year, the Sunday Times first reported. M&S has also marked down some coats, jackets and boots.

An M&S spokesperson said: “Across the industry, delivery times are normalizing post-Covid and this means that, like other retailers, we have to readjust the flow of stock.”

The industry had expected “a quieter Black Friday against the backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis,” Lim said, suggesting “polarized” spending patterns are likely. Those households with means will advance purchases, while others will be forced to focus on the essentials, she said.

Data from Springboard, which tracks the number of shoppers, showed a noticeable spike in UK traffic on Black Friday. The number of shoppers increased 12% compared to the previous week and was 9% higher than Black Friday 2021. However, it remained 19% lower than 2019.

The influx only increased “very marginally” on Saturday, 0.9% compared to the previous week. Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s chief information officer, said she did not expect significantly higher traffic in stores on Monday.

Separate data from Sensormatic showed that UK footfall across all retailers increased 3.7% on Black Friday compared to last year, but was still down 21% on pre-pandemic levels. The panorama was complicated by the World Cup, with Wales and England, both playing on Friday. While neither game offered a huge amount of excitement for fans, it “provided a welcome boost to retail footfall,” said Andy Sumpter, a Sensormatic consultant.

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