Readers’ Choice: 2011 Predictions

As executives looked toward the coming year, many said sourcing was a major cause of concern, especially if it means a jump in wholesale prices.

However, there were also areas of opportunity, particularly when it comes to expansion internationally, into areas such as China, the Middle East and Europe. Companies also hope to boost the bottom line with must-have product, predicting that women’s fashion looks, vintage styles and the barefoot and lightweight running trends will fare best in the coming months.

Poll respondents were also optimistic about how they’ll operate their businesses. After scaling back during the recession, most firms plan to staff up, elevate their marketing and invest in growth avenues. But about half are still being conservative when it comes to inventories, planning to tighten their merchandise mix.

The biggest concern in the coming year? 36% said “Rising sourcing costs”

Eight top areas of opportunity:
1. “International growth”
2. “Improved consumer spending”
3. “Must-have fashion shoes”
4. “Gaining market share”
5. “Focusing on current customers”
6. “New product innovation”
7. “Younger market”
8. “The Internet”

Your business goals will include…
Expanded inventories: 45%
Tightened inventories: 55%

Staff hiring: 86%
Staff layoffs: 14%

Investing in growth: 77%
Cutting costs: 23%

More marketing: 85%
Less marketing: 15%

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