There was further evidence of cash-strapped shoppers trading down when the cheap fashion retailer Peacocks said like-for-like sales had risen by more than 8% over the past three months. While many retailers are struggling to cope with the downturn in consumer demand, Peacocks, which has 524 shops across Britain, is continuing to expand and opened a further five stores during its fiscal fourth quarter, adding 32 across the year.
The company is taking the opportunity to move into often prime high street sites left vacant as other shops close, and has taken on six former Woolworths locations. Total sales were up 15.2%, including the new openings.
The high street is dividing along clear lines of those that are managing to weather the recession and retailers having a tougher time.
Primark, famous for its throwaway fashion, is also growing and recently reported a 5% increase in like-for-like sales. But it is not just cheaper fashion brands that are doing well. Poundland and discount food retailers Lidl and Aldi are also winning customers. Online fashion specialist Asos, which deals in celebrity-inspired fashion, has seen its sales more than double over the past 10 months.
Marks & Spencer, meanwhile, reported last week a decline in like-for-like sales of 4.2% over the past 13 weeks.
Peacocks is planning to increase the number of shop openings in the 2009-10 financial year to about 40. The company, which also owns Bonmarch�, has said it expects to create up to 750 jobs over the next two years. It said its success was partly down to its ability to respond quickly to fashion trends - between 30 and 50 new womenswear lines arrive in store every week.