Editor’s Take: Aggression & Restraint
This month, I'll focus on one major trend and one major non-trend, both of which could impact significantly many multichannel merchants. One of these — the tumbling housing market — could enable catalogers to feed positively off its effects. The other one, however — the state of the corporate apparel market — needs a close look.
Recent reports from the National Association of Realtors show sales of existing homes have plunged to their lowest level in nearly a decade. And Bloomberg News reported that new home sales fell to their lowest level in more than a decade.
In such times, homeowners invest in their existing homes. That often means renovating kitchens or baths or painting — opportunities the typical cataloger obviously can’t pounce on. But consumers want their homes to look nicer, which also means making many smaller investments in things like window treatments, furniture, hardware, home décor, rugs and carpet, large and small kitchen appliances, plants and planters, etc. That’s where your opportunity knocks.
A slow housing market gets consumers to appreciate their homes more. They don’t necessarily venture out as much as they might otherwise. They’re likely to spend more time paging through your catalogs and browsing online. The housing market may be awful, but the home furnishings market could be hot for you. Don’t miss out.
‘Business Casual’ Lives
As for the non-trend, for a good five or six years, assorted reports have predicted the death of “business casual” in the corporate world; most notably as it pertains to men’s apparel. Men will dig the suits out of their closets; women will pack away their pants and put dresses and pant suits back on.
For instance, an October New York Times story concluded that business casual was on the outs. But the reporter quoted two Fashion Institute of Technology administrators (dressing down is something of an insult to their industry), an executive from a prominent men’s suits vendor and a designer from Brooks Brothers, the multichannel marketer of upscale mens’ dress wear that’s been waiting nearly 20 years for business casual to go away. Dress down’s dead? That’s only what these people dream of.