Sales Slowly Build; Looking To The Retail Future

The Big Picture June Update

By Scarlet Sanschagrin, CMO

With many of our stores now in the second month of reopening we are starting to see a slow increase in sales. As we previously reported, May sales were down 60% on average. June sales improved slightly, coming in between 40% to 50% down, with improvements noted week-by-week.

Although women’s wear stores had a quicker rebound last month, menswear has recently started to make a comeback in some areas, due in large part to a successful Father’s Day weekend. Some of our men’s merchants are even performing just slightly down from last year, which is encouraging.

The challenge now is how to keep the sales momentum growing while still in the height of summer, and with fall merchandise pushed back. Many stores are planning

across the board markdowns of around 35% to 40% starting July 1st on SP’20 goods.

We recommend that you also focus on your best-selling items over the last three weeks for reorders, so you can increase your turn rate. For Blacks clients that use the Portal to view your week-by-week sales information, this should be easy. For those of you who don’t use the Portal, you’ll have to rely on sales reports from your POS system.

What’s Trending

In general, we’re seeing more demand for casual categories and accessories. Fancy dress categories in women’s, and clothing and neckwear categories in menswear, are suffering the greatest. This is due to a lack of formal events, and continued work-from-home orders for people who would normally be

buying nicer apparel for corporate jobs.

But the greatest downward impact is coming from the decrease in restaurant visits. As more areas start to open up nicer dining establishments, we could see an uptick in these categories, but it may be a while.

Successful Outliers

As always, not all merchants are being affected equally. We’ve seen a recent rebound in some resort areas as wealthier customers move to their remote second homes to quarantine. Sales in a handful of these areas are even beating last year. We are also seeing some men’s operations that have had a steady rise since Father’s Day weekend, putting them back into the black.

The most signiSicant driver we have seen from retailers who are succeeding during these challenging times is that those that hustle, win. Merchants who call their clients up for an appointment instead of just sending an email, or commit to private appointments in customers’ homes, for example, are making their numbers.

Virtual Is Here To Stay

Speaking of remote selling, virtual ways of doing business look to be the future of our industry for the long term. This means that merchants who aren’t comfortable buying products without touching them, or who don’t embrace technology, will be at a disadvantage.

Now is the time to look at your technology investments and knowledge, and start

shifting resources. Trade shows in the U.S. keep getting pushed back, and even if Europe has in-person shows in the near future, Americans might not be able to travel there due to restrictions. We are in strange times, for sure, but given that the pandemic could last for another two years, habits will have to change.

What will your business look like two years from now? Will you be able to serve your clients shifting priorities? These are just two important questions we have to ask ourselves. Call a team meeting to talk about the future of your business, if you haven’t already. If you need help navigating these changes, give us a call.

Blacks’ Bottom Line

As sales slowly improve, take the time to rewrite your plans for the next two years. We can’t keep doing business like we have in the past, so embrace the change to a more virtual retail world.