The U.S. economy grew at a slower rate than originally thought in the fourth quarter of 2010, posting a gain of 2.8%. Although this is lower than the 3.2% growth originally anticipated for the quarter, it was still the highest fall growth rate we’ve seen in five years, indicating that the recovery is on track.
Apparel retailers certainly enjoyed the fall rebound, and now the focus is on spring. The good news is that despite rising gas prices consumers are still spending, and tax cuts may give them a little extra to shop with this season.
Although January is typically a slow sales month, retailers continued to see gains, with menswear surging 31% and women’s gaining 16%, according to Blacks Trends. Merchants overall did a good job of clearing their floors last month, allowing them to see some action on early spring product.
In men’s, outwear, knits and accessories led the growth–up 79%, 59% and 76%, respectively–but sportswear also performed well. (To see more trend figures and our forecasts for the next two seasons, check out our Trends by Class page.)
In women’s, accessories came out on top, with growth of 35%, while ready-to-wear posted a 13% gain. It’s no surprise that accessories performed well, given that items like scarves and hats are typical winter purchases, and shoes and handbags continue to trend upward.
And so far, February sales have been decent, considering the severe weather we’ve seen in parts of the country.
The beginning of spring trunk shows should give March sales a boost, and we expect business to be good through April. Like last year, we will probably see a bit of a slowdown in May with growth leveling off in the slow summer months of June and July.
This means that your early spring events should be well planned and executed. Maximize sales using strong online promotions and showcasing new, unique product.
Blacks Bottom Line
Focus your attention on early events and promotions if you want to make the most of spring business.
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