Editor’s letter: time to push back deliveries

by Karen Alberg Grossman

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.”

6 Replies to “EDITOR’S LETTER: TIME TO PUSH BACK DELIVERIES”

    1. I agree it’s always been crazy that the fall season starts in July vs Sept
      I think this could really help the entire industry & anything we can do to help save the Italian mills and retail industry here we need to do.

    2. This is a very good point, and one every independent stores would love to see. Let’s get back to the days when you never started a sale until January 10th for winter and July 10 for summer and it was only 20% at best. The customers shopped and everyone was happy and made money. Hopefully the majors will learn a lesson from this.
      I also would like to know the deals the majors are going to get from the vendors for all the losses from markdowns because of the shutdown and what will they do for us ?

  1. Steve, I totally agree but I think we need the major brands to demand cooperation from the major stores and I don’t think that will ever happen. I hope I’m wrong but for some reason, too few brands realize that big upfront orders don’t always translate to the bottom line.

  2. I have been hoping we could move in this direction for years. This is currently our plan. Unfortunately every time I design a plan these days it becomes obsolete before I implement. Good idea to push this concept. Thank you.

  3. Due to the ever increasing climate change patterns, we have been pushing our Sale further out (September 1 and February 1) and receiving in new product later. To us, it doesn’t make much sense anymore. No one is going to buy a flannel trouser or heavy outerwear on a 8o degree day in September which is what we’ve been getting accustom to here in the Northeast. We’ve stopped bowing to the fashionista’s and concentrated on real business and it has worked for us. Regarding the fight against competing with big box mark down mentality and online promo codes, for a smaller retailer, you’ve got to accept the idea that your commercial offering is going to get slammed by markdowns before you even get out of the box. It’s time to try and promote you own brand, make yourself the important player in the room and talk proudly about it because literally it is your own with your label on it! Additionally, when your guy goes to his closet and sees a shirt with your label on it and its his favorite, he knows where he got it from, the others, he’s not got a clue. Private label when you can!

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