Q: I’ve been carrying mid-priced apparel for some time, but I’d like to move into higher priced goods (not luxury, but “better”) since the upper end of the market seems more resistant to economic changes. How should I make this transition, and should I worry about isolating my current customer base?
A: You are correct in that better merchandise has outperformed mid-priced apparel for some time. But as you make the change, be forewarned that the customer is more demanding at higher price points. There is a higher level of service required and the merchandise has to be higher quality, not just more expensive.
To make the transition, increase your OTB per season, say by 15%. This will leave you with adequate selections for your current customers. You may be surprised when your current customers clamor for the nicer goods.