According to one store, retailers are being forced to bring in pest control experts in an attempt to tackle the problem before items leave the stockroom.
A customer of John Lewis’s Edinburgh store wrote to the firm after she noticed moths flying around a cashmere jumper on the shop floor.
The customer, who asked not to be named, said: “I saw the moths on a pure cashmere jumper while I was browsing in John Lewis. I took it to the till and the staff member took it off me and made no comment. I bought a shirt half an hour later and spoke to a different assistant who told me there was a really big problem with moths in their stockroom and that they must have made their way up to ladieswear but that they only ever stayed at the cashmere collection.”
A letter to the customer from John Lewis Edinburgh women’s clothing manager, Jack Brown, said: “In order to protect our stockrooms and shop floor stock we have a pre-maintenance plan with Rentokil.” The letter described laying traps for male moths to assess the seriousness of the problem and added: “From this information, Rentokil are able to increase their visits to the store and indeed the amount of traps that are fitted, along with spraying the clothing.”
However, John Lewis’s head office insisted clothing is not regularly sprayed with chemicals and the letter had given “wrong information”.
A spokesman said: “We are not exempt from the problems moths cause many retailers. A representative from Rentokil visits the store on a regular basis to assess moth levels in our branch. Rentokil have confirmed that no further actions are required.”
Danit Levi, of Scottish style consultancy DressYourWay, said: “Moths like warm and dark spaces so by the time the shopper sees them on the shelf it is too late to treat since there are sure to be eggs in the storage area. There are no quick fixes. John Lewis needs to consider a ‘full house’ treatment.”