The darling of British online retail, ASOS, today, issued a statement saying it saw “significant deterioration” in trading in the run-up to Christmas. Blaming the weather and a high level of discounting and promotional activity across the market, it said it lead it to increase its own special offers, which typically eat into profit margins.
November 2018 is set to go down as one of the worst retail months in recent memory. Mike Ashley, the Sports Direct boss, was recently quoted as saying, “November was the worst on record, unbelievably bad”. He said “No one could have budgeted for that. Retailers just cannot take that kind of November. It will literally smash them to pieces.”
Left - ASOS' HQ - Black cats for Black Friday?
While ASOS only saw a slowing in sales growth - it now expects sales growth of 15% for the year to August 2019, down from 20% to 25% - it also shows the chill running through the entire retail sector.
A perfect storm of lower footfall, Black Friday discounts, Brexit shaking consumer confidence and a highly competitive market in general, is making things very dicey for the retail sector. Retailer, Stuart Rose, formerly of Marks & Spencer, told ITV News, “I sense this is a very slow Christmas … You have the uncertainty of Brexit, people are uncertain about what the future is going to look like next year. [Consumers] have their hands in their pockets. Car sales? Down. House sales? Down. Big ticket sales? Down. I suspect there will be some uncomfortable trading statements in the early part of January.”
Even the juggernaut of Primark is reporting a slowdown. It has warned of “challenging” trading conditions. John Bason, the finance director of Primark’s parent Associated British Foods (ABF), said “I think it is a call on quite mild weather during November and I think it’s affected footfall.” This is important to Primark because it doesn’t sell online. Bason told Reuters that while sales at stores open more than one year were “just positive” in September and October, they had turned negative in November.
On a brighter note, overall consumer spending rose 3.3% year on year in November, but it was the lowest growth since March, despite the boost from Black Friday, according to Barclaycard. Clothing spending contracted by 2.9%, the biggest fall since October 2017, while spending on household appliances was down by 14%.
One thing interesting to note is ASOS mentioning its slowdown in Europe. It said trading conditions across Germany and France, which account for 60% of the retailer’s EU sales, have become significantly more challenging, which means this is a wider problem than Brexit. ASOS said “The current backdrop of economic uncertainty across many of our major markets together with a weakening in consumer confidence has led to the weakest growth in online clothing sales in recent years. We have recalibrated our expectations for the current year accordingly.”
So, let’s look at this weather. According to the Met Office, “November began with relatively cold quiet weather, but from the 3rd to 14th it was mild with a predominance of southerly winds. It was cold with easterly winds from the 19th to 26th, with frequent rain or showers for the east and south-west. It turned very mild, wet and windy in all parts of the country from the 27th onwards. The provisional UK mean temperature was 7.3 °C.” This up and down weather isn’t particularly unusual for November and we had two decent cold spells to help shift more seasonal, colder weather stock. The weather is always an easy excuse for retailers reporting bad figures.
Right - Primark is opening its largest store in the world in Birmingham this month
Black Friday, though, is wiping out profit margins for retailers with consumers expecting huge discounts and it’s stopping people from hitting the high-street. UK retail endured the biggest drop in footfall for the month of November since 2009. It also marked the 12th consecutive month of footfall decline. Discounts were made for online; no pushing and shoving to then leave disappointed. If they’ve got it, it’s in the basket, and you probably don’t buy anything else while you’re there unlike if you’d gone to the high-street or a shopping centre.
Laura Ashley just announced it was closing a further 40 stores and, last week, Bonmarché issued a profit warning and Blue Inc fell into administration.
Many retailers will be praying for a good Christmas, but to make up these sales in the three weeks to Christmas will be tough, especially with so many factors working against them. Primark and ASOS are strong retailers and will weather this storm, but many will not. To continue the weather metaphors, this could be the hardest frost to hit the retail sector in many years and anybody small or not hardy enough will be dead before the winter is out.
Forest-fresh moss mix with a warm touch of golden amber and topped with a luminous burst of cardamom.
TheChicGeek says, ‘Who knew snowdrops had a fragrance? Maybe a little bit of artistic license from Jo Malone, but it works for the festive season and into the New Year. We have summer fragrances, so why not Christmas ones?
The first symbol of spring, long before winter ends, the snowdrop isn’t know for its fragrance. This has that slightly fizzy and sugary greeness with white flowers poking through. An easy wearer, the spicy cardamom gives it that festive warmth and sparkle. After the Huntsman collab., I just wish Jo Malone’s packaging was slightly less feminine and more neutral, but I'd happily wear this the whole of December and January”.
Left - Jo Malone - White Moss & Snowdrop - £96
When party season hits - it won’t be long - we often forget about our dancing feet. For something simple and fashionable opt for a dose of sparkle in the sock department. Lurex or ‘Glitter’ socks add a Michael Jackson element to your shoe and look great particularly with slip on loafers and cropped trousers. Gucci pioneered the look with their logo lurex socks and while there are a few styles for men, the majority are women’s, so just buy the largest size and they’ll stretch.
Left - Gucci lurex logo socks - Chintz optional!
Below - Gucci - Lurex Interlocking G Socks - £100
Left - Ignore the high-heels - Leg Avenue Xmas Lurex Glitter/Shiny Ankle Pop Socks/Anklets - £9.25 from eBay.co.uk
Left - ASOS DESIGN - Sports Style Socks in Glitter - £4
Below - ASOS DESIGN party socks in glitter zebra design - £4
Need some more sparkle in your life? - Read Menswear Trends Daytime Sequins
Need more inspiration? See Best Dressed Chic Geek Jeff Goldblum rocking party season
Santa, baby, slip a….
Tom Ford Velvet Jacket
Okay, I know I’ll hardly get an opportunity to wear this, but, just look at it. I got a Tom Ford suit last year and the quality is so good. Admittedly, you’re paying serious dollar for it, but my, oh, my, look at this beauty.
Left - Tom Ford - Velvet Shelton Shawl Collar Cocktail Jacket - $3980
Longchamp Leather Suitcase
This is a beautifully proportioned, soft leather suitcase that you’ll be itching to use. It'll make you even more excited about going away. Made in France for a decidedly undesigner price, this is a timeless shape and comes in lots of colour options. I also like the minimal branding.
Right - Longchamp - Le Foulonné Small Suitcase - £500
While I’m over the clothes, the Gucci home stuff, while ridiculously expensive, is where my energy has gone. This is made by Richard Ginori - Kering is the parent company as well as of Gucci - and it has something mystical and masonic about it.
Left - Gucci - Esotericum, Chevron Candle - £220
Balenciaga Dry Cleaning
Nothing says ‘fashion’ like a classic denim jacket bonded in plastic film so it looks like you’ve just left the dry-cleaners with the wrapping still on. We get to the end of the year and I’m still loving what Balenciaga are doing. They know how to twist, make you screw your face up and then jump on board. See more It's A Wrap!
Left - Balenciaga - Dry Clean Big Denim Jacket - £935
Silver Cutlass Necklace
There’s something really fun and original about this necklace. I’m all about chest decoration ATM - see here - and this is a nice mix of design, precious metal and individuality.
Left - Jacey Withers - Cutlass Necklace - £240
It's the time of year to be comfortable, warm and, ultimately, cute. Nothing says 'narcissistic' like decorating a Christmas tree with your own image! Even the fairy on the top has a remarkable likeness!
Credits - Corduroy Jean Suit - Lois Jeans, Fair Isle - Drake's, Socks - TK Maxx, Watch - Swatch
First things first, what exactly is Lurex? Lurex is a type of yarn or fabric which incorporates a glittering metallic thread. It gives the knit a sort of Christmasy makeover which is on just the right side of glittery.
It’s perfect for this time of year, under artificial lights or candles, and adds an element of reflective fun to a suit or evening wear.
I remember Prada produced a collection with lots of lurex in AW 2011 , below, and showed how it could look fresh and interesting in knitwear and accessories. I ended up buying a knitted tie. Lurex on men shows an element of confidence in the wearer and somebody you instantly gravitate to at a party. Get involved!
Here is a selection of what is available this season:
Far Left - Joseph - Lurex Merinos Polo - £195
Left - Vintage - Prada AW 2011
Left - ASOS - Knitted Metallic T-Shirt - £25
Left - Gucci - Lurex Jacquard Tank Top - £440 from LN-CC
Below - Balenciaga - Men’s Slip-on Lurex - £325
Left - AMI - Men’s Round Neck Pull In Lurex - £235
Left - Topman - Lurex Top - £20
The mulled wine was flowing and the Christmas tunes were pumping as TheChicGeek hosted his Curious Night Out with Fossil on Oxford Street, last thursday.
Left - TheChicGeek checking out the new range of Fossil smartwatches and bracelets
Guests were treated to an exclusive ChicGeek discount, monogramming service on leather good and jewellery and luxury goodie bags. I got to chose a selection of gifts, suitable for the whole family, from Fossil's extensive range of watches, leather goods, jewellery and gifts.
Right - Where's ChicGeek?! Fellow blogger, Fashion Foie Gras, getting digitally papped
So, with Christmas wrapped up, all in one place, there's nothing left to do but wish you all a Happy Christmas and a Curious New Year!
Left - TheChicGeek 'geek-handling' Fossil's leather rucksacks
Below - Fossil Oxford Street, London
In this golden age of saturation, what do we really need? Christmas is now all centred about want rather than need, so I've chosen all the frivolous things I'd like to see under my ChicGeek tree. Santa, baby...
Left - Hashtag Collective - £250
A Scented Candle - "One that looks as good as it smells".
Left - Fornasetti - Malachite Scented Candle - £125
Socks - "These aren't boring, they're proper luxe and they're made by Corgi in Wales".
Below - Kingsman - Cable-Knit Cashmere Socks - £125
Cushion - "I'd probably wish for more than one of these as it may look a little sad on its own".
Left - House of Hackney - Artemis - £148
Pen - "These pastel pens are an attractive refresh of a classic design".
Left - Caran d’Ache + Paul Smith - Blue Ballpoint Pen - £35
Bike - "Real men have a basket on their bike".
Below - Martone - Greenwich Grey Men’s Bike - £995
Watch - "The non-obvious smartwatch in a handsome and traditional men's watch style".
Left - Fossil - Q Founder - £259
Fail-Safe Tool - "Stick this on your keys and I guarantee you'll love having it with you. Most used? The toothpick".
Left - Victorinox - Swiss Champ Knife - £65
Pyjamas - "I couldn't get a picture of the blue and white toile de jouy ones that Derek Rose have for SS16, but let's just say they're worth the wait".
Below - Derek Rose Toile du Jouy Pyjamas SS16
"And of course the gift of style..."
Left - TheChicGeek's Fashion, Grooming & Style Guide For Men - £16.99
"Smell as good, if not better, than the Christmas tree".
Left - Tom Ford - Italian Cypress - £142
"If this matches your bathroom, then you need a new bathroom, but you'll definitely know which one is yours! The travel carrier/charger is a great addition".
Left - Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Amethyst - £249.99
If you go down to the woods today you're sure of a big surprise...
TheChicGeek has been putting his best festive foot forward and decorating the trees in the forest. In an abstract Christmas jumper, cosy snood and sturdy boots, TheChicGeek knows less is more definitely more when it comes to casual Christmas attire.
Credits - Jumper - Paul Smith, Watch - Swatch, Trousers - New Look, Boots - Aigle, Snood - Johnstons of Elgin, Long-Johns - ABOUT, Tobacco Absolute Body Wash - Molton Brown, Face Masks - Kiehl's, Shampoo & Conditioner - Mojo Hair
Shot by Robin Forster on OlympusPEN
More images below
Perfectly timed to get the serious business of Christmas shopping underway, join me at the Fossil flagship store, Oxford Street - (between John Lewis & House of Fraser) - on Thursday 10th December, from 6pm - 9pm for an exclusive shopping event.
With a special 10% discount and free engraving and embossing on the night, treat someone you love this festive season with the perfect gift from Fossil.
Right - The curious pairing of TheChicGeek & Fashion Foie Gras. Join us next thursday night
The first 25 guests through the door will receive a special exclusive 'curious' goodie bag and with live DJ, fun photobooth and festive refreshments, it's not to be missed!
When: Thursday 10th December from 6pm - 9pm.
Where: Fossil, 330 Oxford Street, W1C 1JE
Don’t forget to RSVP! See you there!
#Sponsored by Fossil