Post Index

Twitter Updates 2.2.1: FeedWitter

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Women's Apparel Sales Down

I heard this news on NPR radio (KUT 90.5 in Austin) on December 26. It was a takeoff on The New York Times story on the women's apparel sales slump it called an, "ominous holiday sign". Lets assume women's apparel sales are down at your business: What do you make of it? Do you see it as the glass being half full, or half empty? That is, do you see it as opportunity or gloom.

Four points stand out on which I would like to comment.

1 What do analysts see as the reason for this situation? Some, "Analysts blamed a rough economy".

2 Others see this situation as one which could, ". . .could result in steeper-than-expected discounts".

3 Yet another reason for cited for the problem was "lackluster merchandise in the mall", and “There is a lot of sameness” in stores, Mr. Morris said.

4 Finally, analysts expressed surprise at the enduring strength of online spending.

First, the ecomony is a big blanket. It's too easy for analysts in a holiday rush to blurp that one out for inquiring reporters wanting to get the scoop on holiday spending pulse. It says alot and it says nothing for myself, a non-economist.

Second, this speaks to that secret the cat let out of the bag long ago: Apparel merchandise price markups are steep. Yes, that's an understatement, but it also serves to the point that it's an equally steep descent when those prices come down as "discounts" for customers.

Third, "lackluster" and "sameness" in off-the-rack, readywear apparel are synonyms of one another. Rich or poor, people are increasingly aware they need not settle for the same-mold-same-old (truthfully, this is the first time I ever write that phrase and if it's not the one you know I think mine speaks accurately to the issue lol). Robyn Waters, in "The Hummer and the Mini" has written long and well on this trend of consumers rebelling against the "one size fits none" (not her phrase) of manufactured goods.

Lastly, there should be no surprise about the enduring strength of online spending. As I have posted before, women's apparel sales surpassed the behemouth juggernaut of computer manufacturing sales in 2007 for the first since the advent of Internet sales and data compliation.

I am not persuaded women (and moms, as the story relates) let up on their personal shopping needs and wants for the holiday season. The story focuses on sales data mined by a credit card company. Quite likely, those were mega-chain store retailers, not the mom and pop, independent apparel boutique retailers behind those sales figures.

As I have stated before there are over 40 million (per the Home Sewing Association) people in America who sew in their homes. Although the HSA cannot say what percentage do so for leisure or profit when you take into account the number of people who have worked in apparel manufacturing I believe they are behind this sales slump. How, you ask? I'm all alone on this one, but I believe just as we are seeing in Austin so too in other parts of the country consumers, women, particularly, are discovering the wonderful world of apparel fashion and style at local independent retailers. These retailers, particularly if they have are having their apparel made by local individual, independent contractor/designers do not show up on the sales radar for mainstream data businesses such as credit card companies. It's not an ominous sign. The glass is not half empty. It's a great sign of opportunity being taken advantage of by independents. What do you think?

No comments: