Christmas in July?

Q: I’ve noticed that mass-market retailers are moving up the seasons to try to capture early sales. For example, K-Mart began selling Christmas goods in July. Should I be moving up my seasonal inventory as well? A: Actually, you should be doing the opposite. The apparel market is starting to mirror the calendar year to […]

CIT Group

A: Should retailers be worried about CIT Group’s potential bankruptcy? Who will be hurt if they file? A: CIT, as a major factor, is deeply entrenched in the apparel industry. It plays a part in fabric procurement, manufacturing and financing of shipments to retailers. If CIT files for bankruptcy, it could potentially impact 30 to […]

Lower-Priced Goods

Q: I read that Neiman Marcus is expanding into lower-priced goods. Should I do the same? A: We see this trend toward lower-priced goods continuing for a while, so as you go into market you may want to look to expand you price points if you haven’t already. However, keep in mind that you still […]

Planning for Spring 2010

Q: I’m getting ready to go into market. What should we expect for Spring/Summer 2010? A: At Blacks, we’re predicting that sales will continue to be down until October, and then will be flat through the first half of 2010. At most, we might see small, single-digit increases over 2009. Plan flat sales to generate […]


Q: I’ve had a 25% off promotion running for a little while. When should I move to the next level of markdowns? A: Some of the major retailers moved to discounts of 30% to 40% around Memorial Day weekend. That said, you should look around to see what is happening in your market before you […]

The Next Ten Years

Q: To what extent is the era of widespread sales and square footage growth for fashion companies possible as we move into next decade? A: It is possible for smart retailers who focus on what their next niche will be. The old brands will still be there, but they will be perceived as old and […]

Frugal Shoppers

Q: Are we entering a new era of smart, frugal shoppers? If so, how will luxury retailers cope with this? A: Consumers are becoming more frugal, but that’s because they are scared right now. That doesn’t mean that they will continue to be frugal when the economy improves. They still want the things they’ve always […]

Enthusiasm when inventory is low

Q: I know that the current retail climate requires that I cut back on some merchandise and keep in-season open-to-buy, as you suggest. My question is, how do keep my staff enthusiastic about selling when there’s not as much inventory to sell? A: Salespeople don’t just get excited about merchandise, they get excited about new […]

How to Stay Well-Positioned

Q: We’re obviously in an economic mess right now, but I believe it will get better. What do I have to do right now to take advantage of the market when it turns around? A: First, you have to ask yourself what your company needs to look like when the economy improves. Consider what kind […]

Fall Buying

Q: I just came off a terrible season in terms of sales and margins and now I’m ready to go to market again. Business doesn’t seem to be getting any better so how should I plan sales and buying going into fall? A: We are going through an unprecedented time so it’s hard to predict […]