The Big Picture
As we head into the holiday season, all eyes are on consumers. While the consumer confidence index inched up slightly in October, to 50.2 from 48.6 the previous month, continuing pessimism about the job market might keep some from splashing out this Christmas.
Still, the NRF expects sales to increase by 2.3% this holiday season compared to last year when we saw an increase of just 0.4%. And, an NRF survey of shoppers found that they plan to increase spending by 1% this season, with a focus on quality goods rather than discount shopping.
At Blacks, we are predicting that holiday sales among our apparel retailers will show a gain in the high single digits.
September was a decent month for most retailers, but high-end merchants, and stores on the East Coast, fared best.
Overall sales climbed 9%, with women’s leading. Women’s wear made a solid 10% gain, with a strong showing in special order (up 55%) and ready-to-wear (up 12%).
(For more in-depth trends information, visit our Trends-By-Class page.)
Women are buying a lot of knits, and anything that will go along with the latest boot craze. Cuffed, stiletto, or wedge, all boots are in.
Scarves, belts, and handbags are popular accessories but jewelry remains weak. Even the recent bracelet trend has slowed down as the cooler weather invites longer sleeves.
Meanwhile, men’s increased by 8%, led by knitwear, jeans, and special order. For the holiday season, we expect suits and shirts to pick up, and strong sales of knits to continue. Cashmere and Merino are again the hits of the season.
As we head into high season, it’s important that you clear your early fall goods. Although Thanksgiving weekend is the traditional markdown period, we could see the majors marking down at any moment between now and then. Follow the overall promotional arc so you don’t get left behind, and make sure that you land the majority of your holiday goods early in November so you have plenty of time to sell.
The Bottom Line
Concentrate on having a fresh floor for the holidays.
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