Should We Adjust Our Buys to the Changing Climate?

Meteorologists are already warning that 2023 looks to be the hottest year on record, and the prolonged and extreme weather we are seeing across parts of the U.S. have underscored this point. What does this mean for our seasonal buys?

Traditionally, we have landed merchandise in advance of the upcoming season to incite demand, but what happens if your sweaters and jackets arrive several weeks or months before cooler weather arrives? We’re about to find out.

Fortunately, we are hearing from merchants that early FA’23 goods are selling as soon as they come in, even though the weather continues to be warm.

This might be due to two factors: the insatiable demand cycle we have seen since the pandemic recovery began, and consumers’ desire to have something new just because there are not a lot of new trends in-season.

But as the seasons expand— longer and more severe stretches of hot and cold— should we change when we land inventory? The answer is probably.

However, vendors have been adjusting terms recently, demanding orders further in advance, and making it more difficult to respond to changes within the seasons.

There is one thing that you can do, which we have been recommending for quite some time. When you put orders in with your vendors, negotiate landing those goods in a series of small deliveries sprinkled throughout the season.

This allows you to observe sell-through rates on early deliveries and make adjustments to deliveries later in the season, if needed. It also gives you the advantage of more even cash flow.

We also may find in future seasons that extreme weather is changing what we buy. The climates in our local communities may change significantly enough that we are buying fewer heavier jackets than in years past, or more lightweight pieces for summer months. Consumers’ needs are changing, and we must respond, just as we always do.

“The great news is that vendors have already increased the amount of softer, looser and lightweight merchandise they are producing since these items have been trending,” says Blacks Founder Steve Pruitt.

Observe if there are any more demand changes among your customers as we transition into fall, and talk about it with your vendors. It may be better for both you and your vendors to build in some flexibility.