Among retailers’ numerous concerns these days: fall 2020 deliveries. How much of their fall orders should they cancel? Will they even get the goods they want from factories in Italy that are now closed? And why even take in fall goods when store closings now preclude selling spring?
David Rubenstein from Rubenstein’s in New Orleans believes that many stores will now want smaller and later fall deliveries because they have lots of carryover. “Since so many better Italian manufacturers are shutting down production, this ‘pushing back’ the calendar makes perfect sense for everyone, especially southern stores that have warm weather year-round.”
Jonathan Torjman from Stone Rose agrees. “Let’s use this current situation as an opportunity to re-set our retail calendars to actually line up with the seasons. Let’s extend spring/summer selling to the end of August and push the launch of fall to September. Not only would this make sense from a buy-now, wear-now perspective but it might salvage what’s left of this season, helping us maintain margins through the summer and flow-through current inventory on-hand.”
Adds James Costa, “I think if we band together as an industry, we can make this happen and help consumers adjust. It’s not only a great financial move but also a logical one in light of widespread climate change.”
Ken Shaia from Shaia’s in Alabama elaborates. “We certainly don’t need fall goods in August so I like the idea of pushing back deliveries. But we can’t allow Italy to collapse. European makers buy fabric and pay upfront. The big brands will survive this but the majority of small family businesses might not. Retailers are understandably asking for dating and discounts but why not split the discount between this year and next? This way, the Italian brands will know they’re going to get paid and can plan their businesses accordingly.”
Of course, this calendar change can only work if the major stores (those that survive) also agree to push back deliveries and hold off on early clearance sales, something that has never happened in my 30+ years in the industry. That said, the big stores are now suffering at least as much as the independents and might finally be ready to give this common-sense calendar adjustment a try, thereby improving margins for all.
A final thought from David Rubenstein, which I’m tightly holding on to: “The stock market will rebound and people with money will want to reward themselves, whether it’s with a new Rolex, a new Ferrari, or a new Zegna suit.”