Clothes shops are likely to have massive sales when they reopen - here’s why

Wednesday, 20th May 2020, 9:11 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th May 2020, 9:11 am

Clothing stores across the nation are getting ready to reopen in the coming weeks, with potential big discounts on the cards, according to the predictions of retail analysts.

In line with ‘step two’ of the government’s proposed plans announced by Boris Johnson on 10 May, some non-essential retailers will be allowed to reopen in June.

In his speech to the nation. the prime minister clarified that non-essential shops will open “at the earliest by June 1.”

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In light of this, Marks and Spencer (M&S), one of the UK's largest fashion retailers, announced, "We are working towards reopening more space from June."

Shops will need to ‘discount heavily’

While shops may be preparing for their eventual reopenings, Richard Lim, an analyst at Retail Economics explained that stores "will have to discount heavily" in order to move their build up of excess stock which could now be out of season.

"Many clothing retailers have been sitting there with stores full of stock which they haven't been able to shift," he added.

"One of the most pressing issues for retailers is working capital and there is a huge overhang of inventory at fashion stores."

Making similar predictions to Mr Lim is Dan Plant, savings expert at UKHotDeals, who has suggested the nation will see plenty of discounts when fashion retailers reopen, particularly in "popular stores, like Primark” which “lack online sales space”.

Clothes shops felt the full force of the coronavirus crisis, with reports of a large decrease in sales even for the most popular online stock.

One retailer particularly hit by the crisis, Next, had its online sales drop by 32 per cent this quarter. The brand is eager to reopen its stores as soon as the government allows it.

Shopping in a socially distanced world

Next has announced plans to reopen safely in accordance with social distancing measures.

The retailer said, "We have plans in place for the re-purposing of our stores ready to reopen in a socially-distanced world."

It plans to install screens at tills - similar to those seen at supermarkets - as well as sanitisation stations across its stores. It will also manage the amount of shoppers that can enter its stores at any one time.

Next said it will "prioritise the opening of [its] larger out-of-town stores first" since its larger stores have more space for customers and offer bigger car parks for queues.

M&S is another giant retailer that sells clothes, as well as food items, in some of its 300 shops. So far, during the crisis, the brand has kept its food stores open, and has simply cordoned off its fashion areas. Like Next, M&S has said it is keen to reopen fully as soon as it is safe to do so.

"Our 290 stores that sell both clothing and food are led by a single manager - so it means they already have a brilliant working knowledge of the necessary hygiene measures, how to manage social distancing and the flow of our customers in and out of their store,” said a spokesperson.

Predicted safety measures

When shops do reopen, there have been predictions that they shall follow in the footsteps of supermarkets when it comes to implementing safety measures.

One-way systems are expected to be implemented throughout stores, along with floor markings to help keep customers two metres apart, while changing rooms may be blocked off.

Similar to Aldi, customers are likely to be asked to avoid touching merchandise.

“The retail experience is going to be turned on its head when clothes stores reopen," said Mr Lim.

"Retailers are having to reinterpret government guidelines and have to invest heavily to make sure they can create a safe environment."

He has predicted that many shoppers will remain anxious about going back into fashion stores.

"Staff will potentially have to walk around spraying shelves," he added.