Kids’ Buyers Upbeat on Spring

Encouraged by a healthy spring season and a strong start to back-to-school, retailers attending the Children’s Great Event Shoe Show, held Aug. 12-14, were feeling bullish about spring ’13 buying.

“We had a very good spring, so we’ll probably end up increasing our spending for next spring,” said David Hill, head buyer and manager at Jay’s Shoe Box in Livingston, N.J. “We’re bringing in some new brands and expanding some of our categories like our tween business. Our fashion sandal business also has been phenomenal, so we’re looking to build on that.”

Hill said the store will add Steve Madden and Superga for the tween and teen segments, as well as buy deeper with strong-performing brands including Garvalin and Twig. “We’re also very excited about Bloch. They’re doing some beautiful things with ballet flats,” he added.

Winchester, Mass.-based Kids Footstop also is planning to bump up its buy for spring. “We’ve only been open a year now, so we’re still expecting to grow,” said owner Eric Keough. “We had a great spring, with sales up as much as 27 percent in some months, and back-to-school is looking great.”

He noted that color remains a major trend. “Neon is everywhere for spring. Saucony and Tsukihoshi are doing some very cool things with color, and I even saw some neon styles from [more classic] brands like Pablosky,” Keough said. “It’s something that will brighten up the shelves.” The retailer also said is excited about a new lightweight lighted shoe from Skechers. “Lighted shoes are very popular, but customers complain they’re too heavy. So now I can offer something on the lighter side.”

Catherine Mattei, owner of Ped-Agree Shoe Co. in Wyckoff, N.J., said that while her business is steady, she is still taking a somewhat cautious approach to her future buying. “We’ll spend about the same as last spring,” she said. “We’re trying to keep our inventory tight. We’re not adding any new lines. [With the economy the way it is], we want to stick with brands we know work well in our store.”

Top on her shopping list for spring are sneaker brands Nike and Converse, as well as European staples such as Geox and Lelli Kelly. “We’re also filling in on some Crocs,” Mattei said. “Those are always a big spring item for us.”