The two major trends for this year’s winter sales will be a huge amount of stock and large discounts right from the word go, according to various trade associations and federations. The Neutral Independent’s Union (NIU) says that the warm weather this autumn means that the size of the clothes stock available will increase by 7% compared to last year. The sales will start on Thursday the 3rd of January and end on the 31st of January.
The amount of stock available will be larger than normal for several reasons: the warm weather, online sales, the increasing number of discounts offered by large chains (Black Friday…), conjoined offers in December, the disruption caused by Unions and the Gilets Jaunes etc. “This has particularly affected Brussels, where sales dropped by an average of 25% on days where there were demonstrations”, says trade and services federation Comeos.
More than half of retailers (55%) saw their profit drop during the first six months of this year compared to last year. One in four (28%) saw it drop by more than 10%, according to a poll by the Middle-Class Union in Wallonia and Brussels. Four in ten retailers will offer discounts of 40% or even 50% during the January sales.
Comeos says there are still a lot of deals to find. Winter clothes haven’t sold as well this year because the weather was particularly mild during the autumn. On the other hand, accessories, make-up, underwear and pyjamas sold very well.
“The outlook for the next few days is very positive. Retailers are kick-starting the sales with discounts of 30%-50%. The poll shows that a lot of merchandise hasn’t sold, especially items in the women’s winter collection and shoes”, says Comeos. The SNI says that nearly half (45%) of clothes and shoe stores think they will do better than in previous years. They sent a poll to 556 retailers in the sector.
The pre-sales started on the 3rd of December. Discounts are not allowed this early in the year, but more and more retailers and big chains are using alternative systems: the SNI says 38% of fashion retailers offer conjoined sales, while 21% offer private sales. January and July are the only months in the year when selling at a loss is allowed (except liquidation sales).