Department stores reaped rewards by moving their summer Sales forward to benefit from the surge in Middle Eastern shoppers ahead of the Ramadan religious festival.
As wealthy Middle Eastern shoppers returned home last week to mark Ramadan, which began on Wednesday, department stores reported a sales boost during the pre-Ramadan shopping period from June 1.
Both moved their Sales forward to the third week in June to take advantage of the earlier arrival of Middle Eastern shoppers.
Figures from Global Blue, which operates tax-free shopping services, showed that Middle Eastern shoppers increased their spend by 51% year-on-year in June and July with the average transaction value up 58% to £1,348.
However, Harvey Nichols chief executive Joseph Wan said that it would not move its Sale period earlier next year, despite Ramadan continuing to move forward.
“We moved our Sale more than a week earlier to June 16,” he said. “The result was not exciting in terms of bottom line profits. We cut the Sale short and we went in to Sale faster and we had to mark down things higher.”
Harvey Nichols will revert to its normal three-week Sale period beginning on the last Wednesday in June next year.
Wan added: “If we move earlier, we may face a situation where we are in spring/summer and marking down new season goods.”
Harrods merchandise director Rupert Symes said the retailer, which went on Sale on June 19, would not move its Sale any further forward next year. “It is all very well to start early but if we don’t have the new season product, it won’t work.”