SYDNEY — Summer days and fashion — that’s the mix Australian retailers are hoping will resonate for customers trying to shake off the recession’s residue.
This story first appeared in the January 4, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Leading fashion retailers here are optimistic about strong clearance sales during summer, despite a hike in interest rates to 3.75 percent announced by Reserve Bank Australia earlier this month.
“After a challenging winter, we’re right in the midst of a really good summer trading time, our customers have responded really well to the merchandise,” said David Bush, women’s wear general manager for David Jones.
Bush added the department store was cautiously optimistic sales wouldn’t lose momentum after news of the interest rate increase.
David Jones closed its first quarter 2010 ending Oct. 25 with sales up 1.9 percent to 452.1 million Australian dollars, or $411.8 million at current exchange rates.
Though retail analyst Rob Lake of Orex Recruiters forecast a 6 percent rise in retail sales from December to January’s end, he cautioned the interest rate news will have a “psychological effect” on shoppers, and may dampen sales.
Myer, Australia’s other major department store, was also poised for a buoyant summer, after recently listing on the Australian stock exchange.
“We are quietly hopeful,” said Judy Coomber, director of fashion and accessories at Myer. “It’s business as usual for us — we’ve spent the past three years focusing on building a credible offer of international and Australian designers.”
Recent additions to the department store’s portfolio include Balmain, Temperley London and Calvin Klein Collection. Coomber also said Myer was in talks with several local designers to launch exclusive cobranded collections in 2010.
Myer, David Jones and other Australian boutiques that carry international labels operate a same season policy, selling European and American fall-winter 2009 collections when Australia is in summer.
Vincent Wu, co-owner of Incu with twin brother Brian, with four boutiques in Melbourne and Sydney, said the accessibility of runway images online influenced Incu’s offer — even if the Southern Hemisphere’s season was out of sync. “Our customers are savvy, they know what dress belongs to what collection, and they buy it regardless, half of them are traveling overseas in this period anyway,” he said.
Incu launched Topshop and Topman’s collections in its Paddington flagship in late October, which contributed to 2009’s 10 percent sales spike over 2008. New labels on Incu’s shelves for Australia’s fall include the small, Melbourne-based brand Arnsdorf, women’s pieces made with men’s tailoring and fabrics, and Maison Martin Margiela’s MM6 line.
“From the looks of pre-summer it is going to be a very strong season for us,” Wu said.
Belinda Seper, founder of high-end boutique Belinda, said her customers are looking for newness and quirky finds. To that end, she will add bold statement jewelry by Australian brand Mania Mania, and London-based designer Emma Cook to Belinda’s 11 boutiques next year.
Seper had mixed expectations for summer. “I am feeling more positive, but remain unconvinced that we are recovered — there is still a level of volatility that makes me nervous to relax just yet,” she said.