Harrods in surprise early start to winter sale
The challenges facing retailers at all levels of the market and in both the digital and physical spheres came into sharp relief on Thursday. Just a few hours after Boohoo Group shocked the market with a profit warning, luxury emporium Harrods announced that it’s launching its winter clearance sale early.
It starts Friday, a week before Christmas and ahead of the usual Boxing Day sale debut, which is a big deal for the retailer that’s usually known for sticking rigidly to its traditional clearance timetable. The company said it was “in response to ongoing trading realities”.
But while it’s launching the sale early, Boxing Day will still be a big day as the company will add further reductions on December 26.
A similar approach is being taken by its online peers with a number of luxury e-tailers having already launched early clearances. They include Net-A-Porter, Matchesfashion, Farfetch and Mytheresa. But it looks like the really big discounts are still being held in reserve for the traditional post-Christmas period.
The Harrods move comes as what might have been a more ‘normal’ Christmas season this year has been thrown into doubt by surging Omicron variant infections. This has meant social events like Christmas parties are being cancelled. The central and devolved governments in the UK haven’t actually declared any lockdowns, but the rhetoric suggests lockdowns may not be far off. And both the political and medical authorities are urging consumers to minimise their social contacts.
That means partywear sales could potentially fall off a cliff in the final week before Christmas and with only two weeks to go before what's usually one of the biggest big party nights of the year on New Year’s Eve.
Harrods MD Michael Ward put a positive spin on the early clearance launch. He said the retailer is “delighted to give our customers the festive treat of the Harrods winter sale to enjoy wherever they are, be that at our iconic Knightsbridge store, or through our remote shopping services”.
And he added that the store “has never been afraid of adapting to suit the changing needs of our customers, and we hope that bringing our sale forwards will give our clients all over the world an opportunity to enjoy the magic of Harrods at Christmas for longer”.
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