Keep the climate change: A retail perspective
With climate change, there can be bigger influences on different businesses sectors. Ongoing climate change can redefine the entire retail apparel market and the practice of supplying out of season for upcoming collections.
Winter apparel shows up in stores at the end of summer. But if weather patterns continue to result in hotter and longer summer seasons that extend into the autumn, then the public will be more likely to delay their purchases.
Susan Maratelli, director for international label Holy Chic, says unfortunately for her label, it works bi-seasonally, meaning only two collections a year are released. Fortunately, however, New Zealanders are terrible at layering.
“We have a summer/spring collection and then a winter/fall collection. Each come out at the start of the respective month, so we rely quite heavily on those collections fitting in with the style, trends and all-round temperature of the season.”
Holy Chic has stockists in Australia, New Zealand, and the US, so the countries’ climates are taken into account before making any expensive judgments on what to stock.
“Our winter/fall collections over the past four to five years have also seen a lot of lighter fabrics come through it. Still with cotton blends but with less merino and wool as it’s getting too hot for it all and those fabrics are expensive to source if they don’t sell.”
“With our thicker wool coats and faux furs we’ve seen a drop in sales over the past eight years by almost 23 percent,” says Maratelli. “And although it does seem like a lot, that’s about 50 coats less each week we see being sold nationwide.”
Maratelli says she doesn’t bother stocking her fur coats in New Zealand anymore because she doesn’t make enough profit: “It just doesn’t get cold enough here to sell them.”
“Three years ago we released a thinner silk coat range with Italian cotton blend, and although its warm it isn’t heavy. And every winter since it was introduced it remains as one of our top selling items.”
Maratelli says she saved time and money by choosing to stock items closer to the season, which allows her to adapt to any ‘off-seasons’ that may occur.
“A fast turnaround of design, shipping and stocking mean we can alter our collection materials to fit more with the type of season we expect to see.”
“Places that stock collections out of seasons are the ones who will struggle the most with off-seasons,” says Maratelli. “Because once the collection it out it's costly to change it to suit the weather.”
The adjustability that a late season-stock provides allows retailers to alter what they need to provide in order to meet consumer demands.
Maratelli’s advice is to expect the unexpected, as not being able to change collections to meet seasonal requirements is how you can get stuck.
“For the meantime, what will affect us as a retailer the most will be fitting that need to have clothes that can suit both cold and hotter days. Adjustable items that can be used in multiple settings are a surefire way to make sure no matter how hot the winter is or how cold the summer is, the collections can cope with it.”