Three leading womenswear indies reveal their festive strategies for 2021

Penny Rawson at her Hale boutique clothes shop in Hale, The Edit.

“We are really looking forward to getting back to normal this Christmas”

Penny Rawson, The Edit, Cheshire

“We’re feeling very optimistic about this year’s Christmas trading period. We feel like this may be a bumper year and people will make up for a missed Christmas last year. For this reason, we’re going to bulk up on jewellery, perfume and accessories.

“We’re going to let our product be the hero! We work really hard on buying special pieces that our customers get excited about. We always focus on first price, right price – so we will steer away from discounting. We also offer gift cards and will promote these in-store and on social media.

“We’re working on increasing the personal feel of our social media. We know that other companies are doing really well with lives and reels, and that this is something we need to do. We will plan our social media and email marketing to drive sales throughout the festive period.

“Obviously, we’re really hoping that there are no further lockdowns. But if the worst comes to the worst we will continue to trade on our website and offer click and collect. Mostly we are really looking forward to getting back to normal this Christmas. To see all of our customers shopping in-store will be such a welcome relief!”

“We want the shop to be buzzing with happy shoppers”

Donna Nichol, Chloe James Boutique, St Albans

“We want to put last Christmas behind us and push the boat out this year. As a lifestyle store, we stock gifts all year round – but we always bring more in for the festive season and I’m excited to introduce lots of new brands.

“We have always been very active on social media and will continue to try to both help and entertain our followers with fun videos and useful posts about gift ideas and what to wear.

“I really do not want to think about the possibility of another lockdown – especially over the festive period. However, if it happens, we are ready! We’ve got a fully up-to-date website with both delivery and click and collect options. We’ve also got a gift-wrapping service in place and are ready to switch back to how we traded last year at a moment’s notice.

“We are really looking forward to being rushed off our feet. We want the shop to be buzzing with happy shoppers and we can’t wait to be styling people up for parties and helping others choose gifts. Christmas really is the best time of the year in retail. And then we are all looking forward to having a ‘proper Christmas’ with family and friends, being with our loved ones and putting our feet up!

 “There’s going to be an uplift in people buying gifts and shopping local”

Victoria Rex-Lees, The Women’s Society Boutique, Hertford

“I feel there’s going to be an uplift in people buying gifts and shopping local this Christmas. I have bought stock in earlier for that and will be introducing our festive collections early this year. We already have gifts in-store such as hats, scarves and gloves and they are selling well. We will also buy in-season and play the season by ear.

“I’ve invested more into partywear this year than usual. I think people will be having a lot of family get-togethers and they won’t have any sparkle in their wardrobes from last year. We’ll probably introduce our festive merchandising in the last week of November and bring out our special Christmas gifts then.

“We won’t be taking part in this year’s Black Friday. We have done in the past, but I think it’s highly damaging to the brand. Discounting so heavily is not right for our industry. It also means the sales begin a lot sooner, as retailers will often go into sale right after.

“We usually run a shopping event on the same weekend as Small Business Saturday and link it in, so we will probably do that again this year. I think we will also run another event the weekend before, so we have two hits.

“We are being affected by stock shortages and Brexit currently, so that will determine what we can do in-store this Christmas. I’m optimistic that there won’t be another lockdown, but if there is then we have everything in place to continue trading online.”