Q: As I begin my spring ‘22 buying plans, what are your thoughts about the strength of the sales recovery we’re currently in? Will we continue to see steady growth, or will there be a correction?
Steve Pruitt: We have been pondering the same question. We expect our clients to beat last year and, in many cases, make or beat 2019 numbers into early 2022 (probably February). At that point we expect sales to flatten out to 2021 numbers.
To what degree sales flatten likely depends on the location of the store. Let’s consider these three locations:
Destination locations have been the strongest both during the pandemic and during the recovery. We expect these locations to continue to lead the recovery. In most cases these locations are beating 2019.
City locations were the most adversely affected by the pandemic. These locations are the slowest to recover. In some cases, a return to 2019 business levels could take multiple years.
Suburban locations fell somewhere in the middle. In the South, in particular, the states that opened more quickly saw suburban locations experiencing a quicker recovery. They should match their 2019 performance over the next few months. Locations that opened later, however, are just starting to recover.
So, the general idea is this: It’s not so much about what you sell right now; it’s about where you’re at. Plan accordingly.
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