The Big Picture
Although overall June retail sales were down for the second consecutive month—mostly due to a drop in auto and gas sales—sales of clothing managed to inch up 0.6%, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.
While analysts agree that the recovery is still underway, they also say it is a slow process, given the high rate of unemployment. Consumer spending is still unpredictable, they say.
Fortunately, we are continuing to see steady increases year-over-year among Blacks’ clients as we head into August.
With the gains we’ve seen over the last few months, it’s probably no surprise that overall sales slowed in June, showing a 1% gain over last year. Even though it was a small increase—driven by strength in women’s wear—retailers that had more “Buy Now, Wear Now” goods performed even better.
Total menswear sales for June came in flat. Furnishings dropped 3% from last year, while clothing and sportswear both crept up by 1%. Sportswear is definitely where we have seen the most action, particularly in sport shirts—shirts in bold colors are the trend right now. Meanwhile, clothing remains a replacement buy for most men.
Women’s wear was a stronger performer, showing a 6% increase from last year, driven by a 7% gain in ready-to-wear. Accessories also got a bump, notching up 3%. (For more detailed trends, see our Trends By Class page.)
July is a traditionally slow month when most retailers fire up promotions to clean summer goods, so we expect small, single-digit increases, at most. But, as we head into August and start landing new fall goods we do expect sales to rebound.
Early Fall Strategy
Since the economy and consumer spending is still touch-and-go the most important strategy heading into fall is to land new goods—and the right goods—often. We all know that our post-recession inventories are tighter so it’s more important now than ever that you buy correctly and track your progress. You have to have the right mix of new seasonal goods and new stock goods flowing into your store, giving your customers a compelling reason to return.
Because there is less room for error than in previous years, we suggest that you consider employing analytics to help you track the success of your buys. The right analytics can dig deeper into your buying and sales patterns, helping you to track and take advantage of micro trends. For more on the importance of analytics, stay tuned for the new Blacks Analytics report, due out in August.
In the meantime, feel free to contact us for more information on how customized analytical tools can help sharpen your business at email@example.com.
The Bottom Line
Right now, you should be tracking the amount of new goods you land. By mid-August, you should have a total of 75% new merchandise, including both new seasonal and new stock goods.
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