Nov 28, 2022
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Unsold stock in UK warehouses leads to major discounts, luxury joins in

Nov 28, 2022

UK warehouses are full of unsold stock, according to several press reports, with M&S one of the main companies suffering from the problem that’s been caused by a mix of cautious shoppers, milder-than-expected weather and the easing of supply chain issues.

Photo: Ivan Samkov at Pexels/Public domain

The high levels of stock may partly explain why Black Friday sales figures saw a surprise jump, despite fears that the shopping event would fail to excite consumer interest.

With larger numbers of retailers offering bigger discounts (and more of them), consumers have been grabbing bargains.

The luxury sector, which often stands back from events such as Black Friday, has also been cutting prices, with retailers including Net-A-Porter, Matchesfashion, Farfetch and Mytheresa offering discounts starting at 20%.

The Times reported that M&S — which is the biggest clothing retailer in Britain — has asked suppliers to postpone deliveries, as well as delaying signing off orders for next year. 

The company has been running discounts of 20% on winter clothing due to the above-average recent temperatures.

The newspaper also cited an unnamed “fashion boss” saying the “three weeks leading into Black Friday were awful and we all fell through the floor. The discounting has started and it will carry on right through to January now”.

M&S had earlier reported higher sales in its latest results report, but of the current situation it only said that like other retailers, it was “re-adjusting stock flow” as supply-chain disruption eased.

The unblocking of supply chain jams has meant that lead times for products coming from east Asia have improved by around four weeks. With retailers still clearing earlier shipments that had been delayed, the arrival of new goods earlier than expected is causing a major headache.

Inventory levels at ASOS, for instance, are 34% higher than a year ago.

That comes at a time when clothing volumes sales are dipping with Kantar Worldpanel data showing a 1.2% drop in garment numbers sold in the quarter to mid-October.

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