Q: This month has been as bad, if not worse, than any month since the start of the pandemic. Business had been slowly improving. How should I read the current month as I look at the immediate future?
Steve: You’re quite right about January. At Blacks we anticipated that January would be down, we just didn’t know to what degree. And it varies by location and region. The good news is that we saw it coming and developed buying plans to carefully manage cash flow. We also do not expect February to be very productive.
As we move into March, and then into the second quarter of the year, business should start to grow closer to 2019 levels. The third and fourth quarters should also be much better. Many of our stores should meet a 2019 run rate by the end of 2021.
While you’re planning for the uptick, it’s important to understand that along with the rebound the balance of sales between clothing, furnishings, and sportswear will change. Stores that anticipate these changes correctly will grow and become stronger companies. Those that fail to evolve will be challenged and not catch the new wave of business.