Blacks Retail Report
From Blacks Retail what you need to know now.
Women’s Wear Surges, But Men’s Sputters
The Big Picture While both consumers and the Federal Reserve feel pretty confident about the U.S. economy, overall retail sales continue to lag. Retail sales for May dropped 0.3%, despite analysts’ expectations of a 0.1% uptick. Big-box retailers look to be the hardest hit, while dedicated clothing and accessory stores saw a 0.3% rise. And, online retailers saw a significant 10% upswing for the month. So, while overall sales dropped, the decreases seem to be coming from one sector of the market and shouldn’t be seen as a larger trend. In fact, consumer spending is expected to rise over the summer, after getting off to a slow start earlier in the year.
Women’s wear showed a significant pickup last month, surging 9% overall, thanks to a double-digit increase in readyto-wear. Jeans and jackets were particularly strong. Accessories and special order also performed well, but dresses suffered, with a 12% decrease from the previous year. Dresses are still showing well, but some women may have bought them earlier in the season.
In men’s, a lack of demand for Clothing categories such as suits , sport coats and neckwear continues to hamper sales. Only knits showed a strong uptick in May.
Generational shifts, and more casual workplace dress requirements, continue to affect men’s merchants. (We will take a closer look at these changes in next month’s Retail Report.)
We are going up against some double-digit decreases from last summer, so we expect retailers to make gains going forward. If you don’t, there may be some adjustments to be made with your strategy or execution, because the market should be stronger. After all, we’ve finally entered a new retail cycle, with greater growth slated for fall. The uniqueness of your products, and how are you land them, will be crucial. As you start to clear your floors for fall product, we caution you not to mark down too deeply, since you need to keep your margins up. Remember, specialty store shoppers don’t require markdowns to spend.
Blacks’ Bottom Line
The good news is that decreases are getting smaller as the market improves. Make it your priority to beat last year’s numbers.