skip to main content
  • *
  • *
Find Insight DIY on
* * *


Britain's retailers hope for extravagant Easter

Cold snap is bad news for 'make or break' holiday after number of retailers going bust this year reaches 69. The nation's struggling retailers are preparing for a make-or-break Easter, and if weather forecasters are right in predicting a wintry weekend, some could join the growing list of high-street casualties.

After Christmas, Easter is the most important trading period for many shops, with retailers counting on strong sales to help keep them afloat before the next rent payments become due at the end of June. It comes as figures show that 69 retailers collapsed in the first three months of the year with the loss of almost 10,000 jobs.

"Easter is vitally important for retailers," said Don Williams, the head of retail at accountants BDO. "Shopping is still a leisure activity in the UK, and this is the first big event before summer. It's a big thing for fashion retailers as people start to think about their summer wardrobe, and that has begun to happen slightly earlier this year because the weather's been so good."

Williams said the unseasonably warm weather had helped lift last month's high-street sales by 2% compared with 2011. But he warned that the upturn could be wiped out by a cold or rainy Easter weekend. A successful Easter is particularly important for garden centres and DIY chains, which can experience a tenfold increase in sales over Easter compared with an average weekend.

Terra Firma, Guy Hand's private equity group, which acquired the Garden Centre Group of 129 garden centres last week, is understood to have been keen to get the £276m deal away before the Easter weekend, which has been crucial for outdoor and DIY chains in the past.

Nicholas Marshall, the group's chief executive, views Easter as so important that he is campaigning for a relaxation of Easter Sunday trading laws. "It's bizarre in our multicultural society to have a law that says you can't go to a garden centre and buy plants but you can buy pornography," he told Horticulture Week yesterday.

DIY chain B&Q is hoping to profit from hard-pressed consumers shunning an early foreign break in favour of doing up the garden and fixing up their homes. Martyn Phillips, the boss of B&Q UK and Ireland, said: "Easter weekend is traditionally a time when people spend more time at home and in their gardens completing projects. With the double bank holiday and Olympics this year, we expect customers to adopt a 'holiday at home' mentality with the summer stretching out in front of them."

Figures from accounts Deloitte show that 69 retailers entered administration in the first three months of the year, up 15% on the same period a year earlier and a 64% increase on the three months before Christmas. Big name failures include the lingerie brand La Senza, plus-size fashion house Peacocks, computer game chain Game, outdoor specialist Blacks, and Past Times gift shops.

He said that only 1,350 stores of the 2,800 operated by the 15 biggest retailers that have gone bust over the past 15 months are still trading. He added that while the first rent payment day of the year, at the end of March, forced many retailers into administration, a "significant trigger in a number of recent administrations is that the retailers have too many marginal stores". "In order to remain competitive, some retailers will need to rethink their business models to be nimble and adaptable to changing consumer trends. A fast-changing retail environment will require certain businesses to reassess their store portfolios, not as a matter of choice, but in order to survive."

Source: Rupert Neate -

07 April 2012
view more UK DIY News

Insight provides a host of information I need on many of our company’s largest customers. I use this information regularly with my team, both at a local level as well as with our other international operations. It’s extremely useful when sharing market intelligence information with our corporate office.

Paul Boyce - European CEO, QEP Ltd.

Don't miss out on all the latest, breaking news from the DIY industry