Retail Guide: Voting Block

The ballots are in.

In an exclusive Footwear News online poll, retailers weighed in on the trends that would impact their businesses the most. Representatives from department stores, national chains, independents and specialty retailers took part in our twice-annual survey, and the results indicate that most anticipate an active, and perhaps anxious, spring season.

Of those responding to the poll, 51 percent said they are optimistic or very optimistic heading into spring, while 43 percent are only lukewarm on the season. Six percent said they are pessimistic.

Issues on the minds of retailers appear to be widespread. While the economy was the clear leader among concerns, according to 60 percent of participants, other retailers said their fears included sourcing costs, unemployment, the presidential election, Europe’s debt problems and the weather.

Still, 43 percent of poll-takers said they plan to buy more this spring compared with last year, while 23 percent plan to purchase the same amount. Twenty-six percent of respondents said they would spend slightly less than last year, while 8 percent indicated they would spend a lot less.

Survey respondents were more decisive, however, when it came to choosing the country’s next president. A resounding 61 percent of participants said they would re-elect Barack Obama, while 39 percent threw their support behind Mitt Romney.

In the end, though, respondents predicted the race for the White House would have little, if any, downside for fall business. Fifty-three percent said it would have no impact on sales, while 26 percent suggested it could actually help business. However, 21 percent indicated the election-year fervor could likely be detrimental to sales.

Who do you plan to vote for in the upcoming presidential election?
Barack Obama    61%
Mitt Romney        39%

How will the election affect your fall business?
No effect    53%
Positive impact    26%
Negative impact    21%

When will you place the bulk of your spring orders?
August        40%
September    29%
October    20%
November    11%

What’s your attitude heading into spring?
So-so    43%
Optimistic    40%
Very optimistic    11%
Pessimistic    6%

What should vendors be doing to help retailers right now?
“Reduce minimum order units.”
“Have more control of their product on the Internet.”
“Keep prices in check.”

Will you raise prices this spring?
54% said yes.

Which celebrity would you like to launch a shoe line?
“Taylor Swift”

Will you buy more or less this spring than a year ago?
Slightly more    43%
Slightly less    26%
About the same    23%
A lot less    8%

Hottest trend for spring:
“Products made in the U.S.”

Trend most likely to be dead by spring:
“High-heel platforms”

What is your biggest concern moving forward?
The economy    60%
Rising source costs    17%
Unemployment    9%
The presidential election    5%
European debt crisis    3%
Weather    3%
Other    3%

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