Apparel retailers have an inventory problem

Marielle Segarra Apr 15, 2020
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It might be hard for retailers to sell when malls look like this one did on March 29 in New York. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Apparel retailers have an inventory problem

Marielle Segarra Apr 15, 2020
It might be hard for retailers to sell when malls look like this one did on March 29 in New York. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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The spring is one of those big selling opportunities in women’s apparel. It’s when stores put out the dresses, florals and sandals and can sell them at full price because shoppers are so excited for the warmer weather.

But this spring has been a disaster. It started when the virus hit China and shut down factories. Retailers couldn’t get those spring clothes to stores in the U.S.

“So then some of them were able to air ship, and they’re spending extra money eating into their margins to get the product in,” said Sonia Lapinsky, a managing director at AlixPartners.

Then the virus and the lockdowns came to the U.S., leaving clothes stranded in stores.

And now, it’s hard for retailers to get those clothes to the shoppers they still have online. A lot of retailers just don’t have the logistics set up.

“They don’t have the capabilities to pick things from the store, send them back to those warehouses and then get them back to shoppers in a timely manner and an efficient manner,” said Tiffany Hogan, an analyst at Kantar.

At this point, these are the wrong clothes anyway. Remember, stores are currently stocked with pastel cardigans and floral print dresses.

“Does that really align with folks who are sitting at home all day and want to be in lounge gear and slippers and robes?” Lapinsky asked.

By the time stores reopen, we will be well into summer or maybe even back-to-school selling season.

And that leaves behind a glut of clothing that retailers already paid for and can’t sell. 

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