Fall 2016 Buying Strategies: Retailers At FN Platform Discuss Ways To Combat The Weather

Sam Poser
Stern Agee analyst Sam Poser at today's FN Platform event "Stern Agee Presents
Courtesy.

Retailers at this week’s FN Platform show in Las Vegas agreed while there’s no sure-fire way to predict mother nature, working closer with vendors to adjust inventories in season as well as  better pacing sales can help counteract a soft selling season. In a panel titled: What’s A Normal Fall? Planning For Fall 2016, moderator Sam Poser, managing director of Sterne Agee CRT, tackled the issue of how retailers can put their businesses back on track after a tough fall ’15 season. 

Abe Rogowsky, president of Shoe Parlor in New York, said that while the cold weather typically drives boot business, this fall trend-driven items such as duck boots sold regardless of the temperature.  

Robert Goldberg, owner of Harry’s Shoes in New York, agreed duck boots were strong with younger consumers.” The fashion [aspect] will always be there” said Golberg, “but for consumers to make their decision to purchase [functional product] is when they need [boots].”

To help tweak inventories, Rick Ausick, President of Famous Footwear, said the store’s buyers closely monitor sales in order to adjust the flow of product including cancelling orders,  as well as plan a sales strategy. “Every Monday we make those decisions,” he noted, in order to keep cash flowing.. “How many[boots] do we want left, can we lower the price until we meet our number?”

As an independent, said Goldberg, he’s in a position to buy leaner since he can work with vendors to adjust stock in season. “We can call vendors and get goods quickly,” he said, about filling in merchandise as needed. “If there’s a storm, consumers are not that fussy about what the item is.” Conversely, he noted, this fall he was also able to cancel boot orders.

Retailers such as The Walking Co., with over 200 stores, may not be as nimble when it comes to buying.Based on the success this fall of short boots all over the country, said COO Mike Grenley, it makes sense to focus on product that is not as weather driven. “No one can plan how the seasons will go and if product will then be available,” said Grenley.

Bottom line, said Rogowsky, retailers should heed weather services more seriously. “The ability to looklong range at the weather is a new tool,” he said. “If there’s going to be a big storm in 10 days, we can consider bringing in merchandise as a small store.”

Added Goldberg, “[Weather] information is more important [today] for consumers too.”