The Big Picture
The U.S. economy grew faster than expected in the third quarter, up 2.5%, thanks to increased consumer spending and U.S. exports, according to the Commerce Department. The economy got a boost from a 0.4% increase in consumer spending in October, fueled by a 0.5% jump in incomes.
The growth mirrored what we saw among our apparel retailers, as overall sales increased 15% last month. Now all eyes are on Nov. through Dec. sales, and retailers are working hard for their numbers, offering numerous discounts and promotions to drive traffic.
(To see which Black Friday weekend promos worked and which fell flat, see our wrap-up.)
Women’s wear was the clear winner last month, surging 19% overall, driven by a 40% increase in accessories. Ready-to-wear also performed well, showing a 14% bump over last year.
The only women’s category to take a dive was dresses, which fell 18% in a clear sign that we are too deep into the trend. Women’s closets are full of dresses at this point they’re looking for other pieces to fill out their wardrobes.
Menswear also fared well, showing a 15% bump overall with strength coming in special order (up 38%), suits (up 14%), and sport shirts (up 15%).
(For more in-depth trends and forecasts for the next two seasons, see our Trends By Class page.)
Since clothing isn’t a traditional gift item, expect December sales to be above last year’s numbers, but slightly lower than your sales rate over the last 90 days. For the season we’re expecting single-digit growth over 2009.
It’s too late now to change course on promotional plans, so concentrate on making the most of your promos, and measuring their success so you know what not to do next year. Your 2011 planning should start now. Keep in mind that the economy will still be in recovery mode next year and we need to keep up our smart retail practices.
Blacks Bottom Line
The key to success this holiday is to embrace the spirit of the season–-stay positive, make it fun for your staff and your customers, and be willing to give so that you can receive.
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