Q: My sales have been down recently, after a strong start to the year. Do you see a slowdown on the horizon?
Steve Pruitt: We are seeing a start to a natural slowdown in the sales cycle, but it’s too early to tell if will last into fall. After all, the economy is still experiencing strong growth, and the stock market snapped back after its downturn late last year.
We’ll have to wait to see what the growth rate looks like this quarter, but I’m still recommending that you plan conservatively for fall. Focus on margin to reduce the pressure on top-line sales, and make sure that you are landing goods early that are sure to sell.
Look at your sales patterns to see which products are receiving the strongest demand. In general, knits and outerwear have been trending, but you may see different patterns, depending on which market you are in.
One thing I know for sure is that the sales cycle we are coming off of has been a long one, and some choppy waters may be ahead. That doesn’t mean that you can’t keep afloat, however. Stick to strong inventory management and a conservative approach.
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