by Steve Pruitt

Q: My sales fell off a bit last month, which wasn’t too worrisome given the time of year (and after a great January.). But March has been slow as well. Do you think the recent banking failures and market swings will keep sales flat or down for the rest of the year?

A: Any macroeconomic news or actions can affect consumer demand. But I don’t think they did in this case. Our projections for SP23 have been flat for many months. 

January was a complete surprise, then February went flat as expected. How long will it last is the million-dollar question. We expect several months of flat business. Keep in mind that even in these last couple of flat months some merchants have had gains. To a large degree, destination seems to be a determining factor. 

Customers are still traveling – catch them before they go or you will lose them to stores in their travel destinations.

Uniqueness of inventory is another determining factor. There has been a lot of merchandise sold in the last two years. Ask yourself how compelling your assortment is. Focus on turnover to open your receipt plan for new looks.

We know that merchants with fresh and unique assortments are still winning.