This week's Age newspaper has reported a slow down in clothing growth for David Jones and reduced sales for its stablemate, Country Road. Apparel clothing retailing is at the mercy of seasonal fluctuations and the owner of these two retailers is looking for solutions.
A slow start to Winter followed by an almost non-existent Spring has caused headaches for most clothing retailers. The slow start to winter meant that stock had to be cleared through sales and of course that reduces profit.
The answer to the seasonal fluctuations may come from online retailers who address the dilemma of selling to different parts of the globe in different seasons all at the same time by offering middle of the road clothing that crosses all season types. An item of clothing that can be worn in summer but, with suitable accessories, also translates to winter wear may be the answer for clothing retailers generally.
In one sense QVM clothing traders have a similar clientele to the online retailers. It used to amaze me how my next door neighbour at the market selling fur coats would do lots of business in January, one of our hottest months. She explained that she was selling to locals who were travelling over to European winters or to Europeans looking to buy a fur coat before heading home. The high number of tourists in QVM's customer base does give us unique conditions.
For general clothing It is clear that the old excesses no longer apply. We know that consumers have reduced their spending on household "stuff" (items we can do without) and now they are challenging the adage of slavishly buying new season fashion.
Just one more complexity in the world of retailing.