by Steve Pruitt

Q: I’ve been in the menswear business for a long time, and I don’t remember sales of Clothing categories (suits and formal wear) being strong for so long? When do you think that sales will taper off?

A: It has been an incredible ride, given that Clothing sales have been strong since the pandemic lockdowns ended in early 2021. And because Clothing categories are at a much higher price point than sportswear and other casual categories, this has added up to a lot more revenue for our menswear stores. So, I can see why you are concerned about this trend ending. To make up for the dollar gains we would have to sell a higher volume of sportswear and have a good jacket business as well.

When I was at the Society trade show in New York recently, the menswear merchants were still feeling the buzz of higher revenue but also wondering when the other shoe would drop. We know that this sales curve must come down, but the question is when and by how much.

Right now Blacks is planning our clients’ sales plans as single-digit increases for Fall ‘22 and flat as we move into Spring ‘23. We will have to make more adjustments as the data starts coming in.

One thing we know for sure is that there will be winners and losers when the sales curve flattens. The winners will be the ones to be chased, and the losers will likely face greater challenges next year. The overall focus should be on not letting inventory pile up as we move into and through 2023.

What I would suggest right now is to have a very dynamic planning process in place. You should have already flattened your inventory plans going into fall and early spring. Men have been buying new suits for delayed events as recently as this month, so what is the likelihood that they will continue to buy into fall when they have a relatively new suit on hand? The answer is it’s unlikely. We won’t see the same sales rates that we’ve seen recently.

Make sure you have a good assortment of sportswear, and that your salespeople can direct customers to higher-priced jackets and accessories to boost your overall numbers. Good luck!

Above photo by Mentatdgt.