FFANY Retailers Find Freshness

NEW YORK — While price hikes are a concern for most retailers, the initial outlook for spring ’12 is bright.

Buyers at last week’s FFANY show here were optimistic about the spring offerings, naming bold colors and wedges as strong trends.

Brooke Banwart, DMM of shoes and accessories at Piperlime.com, said footwear sales for 2012 could grow in the double digits over 2011.

“We’re definitely increasing our buy,” said Banwart. “We’re really optimistic because we’re seeing a lot of newness in terms of colors and silhouettes, which were lacking a bit this past spring.”

Danny Wasserman, owner of New York-based Tip Top Shoes, agreed that the fresh merchandise should make for a successful season.

“There is a lot of good product out there, you just have to be very selective. [There is] an abundance of color, [including] turquoise and aqua,” he said, adding that wedges and espadrilles are poised to be standout trends.

While they were upbeat about new trends, many retailers are still concerned about how price hikes will affect consumer spending.

Boston-based Shoebuy.com has been closely monitoring the sourcing situation in Asia, said VP of merchandising Megan Moser. “As a retailer, we want to keep a close eye on everything that’s happening in China with manufacturing and where that’s going to take our prices.”

Perry Mahan, owner of Philadelphia-based Shoetique, agreed that costs are a concern, but he still expects to have a strong spring season in 2012. “I’m worried about rising prices, but as long as we counteract that with rising sales, [the store] should be fine,” said Mahan. “[Consumers] are ready to shop.”

“People are sick of hearing how bad the economy is,” added Kelley Heuisler, owner of Baltimore-based Poppy & Stella Heuisler, which is increasing its buy by 15 percent from last year. “Especially with shoes, you get people saying, ‘We didn’t take a vacation or buy a car this year, [so] I’m buying shoes.’”

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