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Bid to salvage stock

M&S and Next among stores ‘mothballing’ stock for next year

Holly Willoughby M&S

M&S, promoted by Holly Willoughby, will ‘hibernate’ stock

Some of the high street’s fashion chains intend store tens of thousands of unsold clothing items in warehouse to be put back on sale next year.

Next, Marks & Spencer and Debenhams are acquiring warehouse space to ‘hibernate’ stock currently in stores but rapidly becoming out of season. 

As well as planning massive clearance sales when shops reopen, many of the big name companies are mothballing clothing and home products which can be easily be put into storage.

These include T-shirts and jeans and formal office wear which are unlikely to fall out of fashion.

M&S may put at least half of its unsold ranges into storage while Next revealed in a recent statement it has identified £330 million of stock – about 15% of the total – from this season that can be ‘carried forward’ into 2021.

One senior retail source told the Mail on Sunday there are big, empty warehouses that are being taken by big retailers looking for alternatives to clearance sales. 

Another retailer said: “We’ve essentially missed out a season and we don’t know right now what ‘normality’ on high streets is going to look like even when stores reopen or how many customers are going to turn up.”

Having stock in storage for next year will also enable companies to cut the cost of ordering new stock, which will help offset this year’s losses.

Shops south of the Border due to reopen in two weeks’ time – 1 on June – though it is still conditional on the coronavirus pandemic being brought under control. 

On Wednesday, Marks & Spencer will unveil its financial results for the year to March and is expected to announce further details about its “never the same again” response to the crisis. 

It is also preparing for the launch of its distribution deal with Ocado on 1 September and planning to speed up its five-year plan to double food sales.

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