by Steve Pruitt

Q: Everyone expects Q1 to be difficult as we wait for vaccine rollouts to bring stability to consumers’ lives, and ours. What’s your advice for retailers to help us get through these first few months of the year? And when do you predict we’ll see a rebound?

Steve Pruitt: The first quarter of the year will likely trend at the same rate as the last quarter of 2020, which was down around 35 percent from normal. As we round the curve into the second quarter there is a general belief that business will begin expanding as vaccines rollout to the general public. I expect the trend to get more dynamic as we move into the third quarter.

It’s important to understand not just the sales momentum, but how the balance of sales between departments will develop. We do not think it will be proportional to 2019. Clothing and dress furnishings (such as dress shirts and neckwear) will likely continue to drop, as sportswear and shoes gain a greater share of sales. Active categories should still be strong, and we expect the vendor community to create new offerings in this area.

The good news is the vaccines offer hope, and optimism will be key to getting customers shopping again. Do all you can to hang in there – an upswing is coming.

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  1. I’m in the tailored clothing business some off the rack and some custom in a small town in eastern Pa. Up until the pandemic and being forced to close those 3 months in the spring my clothing business was stable. Now I wonder if I should even try to stay open. A lot of my customers were working in offices in NYC and eastern NJ, now when they are working at all, and doing it from home. What’s the prospect of them ever wearing clothing again?
    On the other hand the few attorneys and other business professionals that I am seeing are buying only as needed. Men coming in for weddings are not. So I guess can I survive until 3rd quarter?

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