by Steve Pruitt

Q: I just got back from the Spring ’23 shows and I am a little lost on how to plan for next year. While the business in my store is still going strong, I keep hearing about a slowdown and the latest interest rate hikes have me concerned.

What’s your advice for spring planning?

A: It’s true – we are certainly seeing a mixed bag of economic data. On the one hand many of our better menswear stores posted double-digit gains last month. But on the other hand, we don’t want to ignore the economists that are warning us of an economic slowdown.

A lot will depend on which part of the market you’re in. More moderate stores could see sales drop off as consumers face higher prices and more expensive borrowing. However, wealthier shoppers seem to want to keep buying and we need to have the inventory to support them.

My advice is to plan conservatively for spring, with sales flat or a little bit up from this year, depending on the momentum of your store.

You have to put your spring orders in now to get the merchandise you need, so don’t hesitate even though the economy could soften. Just make sure you are getting the right level for your business, and look for unique products that will keep the fashion junkies coming back in.

I know this is a difficult position because we have to straddle two realities – what we see right in front of our eyes, and what we hear is coming down the road. The only move in this position is to stay moderate and keep looking at the data as it flows in.

ABOVE: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.