Women shoppers get winter blues

OLIVIA WANNAN
Last updated 05:00 03/07/2013
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MATT DUNCAN/ Fairfax NZ

RETAIL OF WOE: Women are tightening their belts when it comes to buying winter clothing, retailers like Wellington fashion boutique MD are finding.

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Women might be partial to retail fashion therapy, but this winter men appear to be the bigger spenders.

A late-arriving winter impacted on clothing and footwear sales, leading many stores across Wellington to slash prices. Some mid-season sales are offering discounts of up to 75 per cent.

Markdowns may have got men opening their wallets, but women are keeping their purses firmly shut.

Hallenstein Glasson chief executive Graeme Popplewell said that while recent deals and promotions in the past month had kept things ticking along at its Hallenstein Brothers menswear stores, its women's fashion arm Glassons was in a "tough environment".

Wellington department store Kirkcaldie & Stains had also seen a noticeable difference in sales between its men's and women's fashion departments, managing director John Milford said.

"Our menswear has been okay but our ladieswear has definitely been affected for the season.

"Men will buy almost in spite of weather, when they know they have a need and they had planned to spend, where I think the female shopper is much more reactive."

In March, spending on clothing fell dramatically, down almost 9 per cent on the previous year, figures from electronic payment provider Paymark showed.

For Kirks, sales in departments such as hosiery dropped to half those seen in 2012.

Retailer Marilyn Jones, of women's fashion boutique MP, on Willis St, said many women in the capital were facing job uncertainty. "If there is job restructuring going on, what are you going to do, pay off your mortgage or buy more clothes?"

Second-hand clothing stores were less bound by the arrival of new-season apparel and were able to keep summer gear out in response to extended warm weather, Recycle Boutique Napier and Palmerston North owner Jo James said.

In reward, she had seen record sales this year, including big rises in men's clothing purchases.

But Janice McKeown, manager of Masterton men's clothing store Intersection, had found sales "patchy" this year. She said she doubted things were much rosier for other men's retailers.

Wellington footwear retailer Banks Shoes had also seen no difference in sales of shoes for men and women, though owner John Bank said recent cool weather and mid-season markdowns had boosted trade.

Paymark figures show April sales jumped 11 per cent and spending in June was up 1 per cent, compared to the same months last year.

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