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Kids Wear Sales Reps Rap On Boosting Spring Sales

This article originally appeared in my newsletter (which you can sign up for here).

Wanna know what’s happening in the industry? Ask a rep. They’re literally in the middle of it all. Read on to find out what they have to say about spring sales, upcoming trends, the all-mighty dollar and top retailers.

Q. What are typically some of the key buying triggers for spring?
There are so many events during the springtime, so there’s lots to dress up for: Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, weddings, and tons of graduations from pre-school, kindergarten, elementary school, middle school and high school. Whew! And of course, it’s time for new swimsuits, sunhats, sunglasses and flip flops. —Allison Acken, Allison Showroom in Los Angeles

Q. What about Easter and Communion?
Easter and Communion sales are always a big factor for spring whether stores are looking for actual Easter or Communion wear or not. The holidays always dictate retail sales. In 2013, Easter was really early—March 31st. In 2014, it was late—April 20th. And Easter 2015 will be April 5th, so it’s pretty key to know those dates. —Robin Wilcher, Duo Showroom, New York

Buyers aren’t typically buying especially for Easter at this point. If they find something that works for Easter, that’s great. But we tend to get people buying immediates for Easter in January. They’re looking for dresses and accessories they can offer as basket stuffers. —Tiffany Stricklett, Nicole’s Showroom, Los Angeles

Q. How can manufacturers help stores capitalize on these key times/categories?
By paying attention to each manufacturer’s delivery window. If they’re buying to capitalize on those sales they need their orders in sooner than later or they’ll miss their window for optimum sales. —Robin

Lifestyle pictures are what sell lines. When people see the clothes on a model, it sells. But brands have to be careful how they style the shots—it has to reflect the way a customer would put looks together. —Tiffany

Well-placed press notices are a great help to stores. Having been on the retail boutique side before opening the showroom, I know that every time a print ad or a mention in an article appeared in a consumer magazine, our sales would shoot up for those products. With the Internet traffic today, it isn’t even expensive to do. Mommy blogs and newsletters are a great avenue for piquing interest. —Allison

Q. What do brands need to understand about what “spring” means in your territory?
On the East Coast retail sales for Spring/Summer is very short. That’s why cruise/resort wear is so big. A lot of designers/manufacturers can’t wrap their heads around bathing suits being out on store floors in November. For spring, stores want their goods in as early as possible because by June, if not sooner, the season is over and there are sales everywhere. —Robin

For us, spring is our big season. It’s who our customer really is here. We do significant volume during the season. We’re more casual, laidback and beachy/surf. —Jody Melcer, Smallshop Showroom, Los Angeles

Q. What role is price playing these days? Is there a way to change the conversation?
For a number of years, buyers have been telling me that $40 (retail) seems to be the sweet spot—that customers won’t hesitate to buy up to that price point but then they stop to consider a purchase more carefully. I think that number will be increasing as the economy continues to improve. Having said that, there are buyers who don’t even look at pricing; they simply buy what they love. —Allison

To some stores in the Southeast, pricing is everything. A piece of clothing can be the cutest thing that you have ever seen in your life, but if it is too high, the final customer will be resistant to it. I have heard a lot recently from buyers that their customers want “big box” prices with boutique products. That’s hard to find. —Chelsea Johnson, Chelsea & Company, Atlanta

Dresses sell best because buyers don’t have to put an outfit together, which would bring the price up. If a dress is really done with the right fabrics and embellishments, then buyers will pay for it because they can offer it as special occasion. It has to be something they have to have so price doesn’t matter. —Tiffany

Q. What are your best stores doing right these days?
The best buyers know for whom they are buying and what will work in their stores. And they have to love it. It is the key to success. —Allison

Successful retailers are those who are able to adapt and change to the environment and develop new ways of serving customers, respecting the dynamics of current trends and adapting accordingly. And it’s different for each territory and each neighborhood. It’s very challenging. —Robin

[They] are doing a lot of baby registries and keeping everything flowing on social media. Young moms are often on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, so taking the time to post pictures of new arrivals and such online helps keep the stores’ merchandise fresh in the customers’ mind. —Chelsea

The retailers who are willing to try things and that have an open mind are doing the best. They’re willing to bring in something new. They’re shopping the market properly. They’re not just sticking with the same things. They’re stepping out. —Jody

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