Christmas trading conditions 2011
Chains claim good footwear sales
While many - probably most - independent retailers found festive season trading down on 2010, it appears many chains traded well, although Retailer Liaison Committee figures show that chain apparel sales grew less than they did in 2010.
Ralph Dodo, MD, Rampar Trading: “Christmas trading came a bit late for us, but it ended strongly. We had quite a lot of promotional activity, so we had to spend money to make money, but we made budget.
“South Africa was very strong but where we struggled was in some of the neighbouring states. Swaziland was the worst and Namibia was difficult, but Botswana came through at the end and made it.
“We had very good sales – at low margins – during the January back-to-school period, but the end of January was very quiet. The preparation for school seemed to take a lot of money out of everyone’s pockets. We expect the first half of February to be much the same.
“Nonetheless, we’re not complaining. Our financial year end is February, and we’ve had a great year on a very strong base.”
Nicole van Doninck, marketing manager, John Craig: “November and December were erratic, but brilliant – one week on, one week off. But we made the sales and we met the budgets.
“We had a lot of promotions, and we did a lot of advertising, and the buyers bought some merchandise at very good price points.
“We were worried because it was such a funny year. Like most retailers, our financial year is July to June, and July to October were good, but Christmas trading is such a big contributor to turnover that it’s vitally important.
“We only sell men’s merchandise, so there’s no back-to-school, but we do two weekends of back-to-work. January is also sale month and end-of-season, with lots of promotions. The first two weeks were good, then it dropped of hectically.
The first two days of February have been good.”
Shaun Loneon, Footwear GM, Dunn’s: “We achieved what we needed to achieve. Consumer buying patterns have shifted later, but the second half of December was very good. It wasn’t driven by cutting margins – we had only one promotion, and it wasn’t even marketed.
“November was reasonable.
“We don’t sell any kids’ merchandise, so January is about end-of-season and sales. We had a very good month, including with regular product.
“The year to date – it was a rocky road to start off with, but we’re getting back on track.”
Ronnie Stein, CFO, The Foschini Group: “I think everyone traded well in December. We grew 17.3% overall, which is way ahead of the retail sector average, if you compare with Retailer Liaison Committee figures. The figure for clothing, which includes footwear, was 18.5%. Furniture and home appliances were 21% up, and jewellery, which is a tough sector, 9.8%.
“January was more difficult with all the markdowns.
“The previous December, we grew 22.5%, so this year’s growth was good considering we had such a high base to grow from. It will be more difficult for us to continue growing significantly going forward, but we expect to continue with double digit growth.
“We’ve traded very well for the past 18 months, and one of the keys has been our supply chain strategy. In clothing, more reactive fashion in the stores has made a big difference.
“The way we buy has reduced our lead times – reactive and replenishment fashion is mainly local. We have our own design department, and we import most of the fabric. We use over 20 CMT factories to make the garments.”
These figures show the percentage growth in sales of clothing and footwear by chains over Christmas since the 2007 sub-prime mortgage crisis which sparked the current international recession.
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 November 11.1 8.7 5.8 11.2 8.3 December 11.3 8.2 5.7 10.6 9.7
The figures are provided by the Retailer Liaison Committee (RLC), to which most major retailers in SA submit their monthly sales figures. It claims to represent well over 50% of all retail sales in the country.
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