While department store giant David Jones may have lamented the unseasonably warm weather in yesterday’s sales results, the retail industry has warned smaller companies have been feeling the heat too.
The longer-than-usual warmth has meant consumers are not only delaying their winter clothes shopping, but ancillary services such as heating and household goods are left to the wayside until winter rolls around.
Russell Zimmerman, the executive director of the Australian Retailers Association, told SmartCompany this morning he’s heard from several businesses which have been affected by the longer-than-usual summer.
“It’s most definitely slowed down sales on fashion goods, but more than that. It’s affected household goods sales and other markets…they’re just not selling,” he says.
David Jones managing director Paul Zahra said yesterday the unseasonably warm autumn has “impacted our business”, particularly in womenswear.
“Despite the warm start to the season, our winter inventory was well managed and is at lower levels than the previous corresponding period.”
Zahra also pointed out the company expects more discounting as businesses seek to offload their winter inventory.
Although the colder weather has started rolling in, Zimmerman says for many businesses it’s too little too late, and they are stuck with inventory they just can’t sell.
“I was walking down a street in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago and there was a sign saying ‘40% off trenchcoats’. I’m seeing this everywhere – they just haven’t sold.”
The warm weather has added more problems to retail’s already long list of troubles. David Jones has had to carefully manage its inventory in order to maximise margins, as it faces low consumer confidence and an industry hell-bent on discounting.
Zahra has pledged to stay away from these discounting practices, but Zimmerman says for many smaller companies, they won’t be able to avoid it.
“Companies are going to have to target these discounts, to ensure they don’t get lumbered with this stuff.”
“It’s obviously quite concerning to the industry, with things already being as tough as they are.”