SLOW MOTION: Fast-fashion chains in France slumped for three consecutive months for the first time in more than 10 years, said François Forget, director of retail research firm Conseil Nationale de Sucursalistes de l’Habillement. For the period July through September, sales fell 10 percent. “The drop can be traced to rising unemployment and the unusually hot summer,” explained Forget. “August was the toughest month — there was a 15 percent drop.” Sales declined 10 percent in July and 5 percent in September for chains such as Hennes & Mauritz, Gap, Zara, Morgan, Etam and Kookai. Through the first nine months of the year, sales among fast-fashion chains in France have fallen 0.5 percent. “October’s not been better,” said Forget. “There was zero growth.” To kick-start sales, chains have extended the traditional fall promotional period, putting a greater number of items on sale than is typical. “The discounts are also greater than usual,” said Forget. Meanwhile, H&M reported on Friday that its sales in October gained 10 percent. The firm did not provide a breakdown by market.

This story first appeared in the November 17, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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