Retailers Feel the Effects of Rising Cotton Prices

We’ve all seen recent media coverage of the cotton prices climb, and Bloomberg is now reporting that retailers like Gap and Wal-Mart are seeing firsthand the effects of higher clothing costs. According to the article, manufacturers may be paying Chinese production facilities an additional 30% for apparel items made of cotton.  It’s only a matter of time before action sport retailers are seeing the effects of increase raw material costs. The question will be how small, specialty shops already coping with low margins are going to be able to handle the increased wholesale costs that are inevitably heading our way, especially because our industry boasts such a large t-shirt sales category....

Buckle Chain Utilizing Layaway Options

Buckle, a youth clothing retailer based in Nebraska, has a traditional approach to its business for its mall-based stores. The US retail chain, which opened its first store in 1947 and has more than 380 across the country, now offers “layaway” – a service that allows customers to have an item set aside and pay for it in regular installments. The arrangement, a feature of retailing in the 1940s and 1950s, faded as credit cards and credit accounts became widely available. Wal-Mart, for instance, closed its lay-away program in 2006 although the trend has reemerged at Kmart and Sears over the past year. As the downturn takes hold and consumers find credit harder to obtain, layaway has proven to be a good marketing tool. Buckle – which has been using its layaway program in its limited store advertising online – dramatically outperformed the rest of the retail sector in November and December, reporting double-digit gains in comparable sales. Layaway makes sense, he says, when an item is scarce and consumers do not have access to adequate credit. It appears that the Buckle layaway program targets teens and college students who often don’t have access to...

Kmart Launches “Boarding” Apparel Line

As reported by Ryley Bane of Label Networks. Not to be outdone by Target’s new collection from Shaun White, Laird Hamilton’s with Steve and Berry’s, nor Wal-Mart distributing OP, Kmart has announced a sort of soft launch of their new action sports inspired collection called “Boarding” to be released in 100 “strategically located” stores this summer (and a possible roll-out to another 1,400 later in the year). While the name is obviously boring, what’s interesting is that the Boarding logo looks like a mash-up between Quiksilver and Rip Curl. According to a recent article in DNR which scooped on this story, Scott Deutsch, president of Orange Clothing, the designers behind the brand (who also work with other big box retailers such as Macy’s, JCPenny, and Wal-Mart), said that the brand is on the right trend, “but affordable. Our focus is to offer the same quality and look as a Quiksilver or Volcom, but be half the price.” Prices for Boarding range between $12.99 to $22.99. This should make parents happy. And for Kmart, that’s there best bet. According to Label Networks’ new data from the Spring Youth Culture Study 2008, Kmart is hardly within the top “shopping destinations” by 13-25-year-olds, however, parents, looking for something cool, may just consider Boarding, a decent option since that’s who’s buying clothing there mostly anyway. Obviously, the action sports industry is hating on this move by Kmart, but it’s not that unexpected. As big-box moves into action sports-inpsired apparel, other stores have already moved on into new genres and crossover styles as seen with fresh data out of Label Networks. H&M, American Apparel,...