Articles

Thinking Turns Instead of Seasons

Like many people of my age we sometimes drift back to our childhood memories of cold weather in winter and a romantic memory of feeling the weather change as we moved through the calendar each year.

If that were ever true beyond our desire to maintain an emotional connection to our European routes, in the era of climate change we are a close to one continuous season with minor variances as we’ll ever get.

Yet we still see retailers and manufacturers cling to “seasonality” in it’s old climatic form.

Apparel and footwear are the most obviously seasonal thinkers – albeit that they are not alone. Launching Autumn-Winter in February with images of cold climates, falling leaves and frost are becoming more and more ludicrous. Colour palettes, materials and designs built on European and northern hemisphere trends are just not flying the way they once did.

Consequently, we see profit warnings and downgrades from major apparel and footwear retailers who keep pinning their hopes on following trends which are geographically domiciled in the wrong hemisphere.

Contemporary retailer who are winning all over the world have almost abandoned the concept of weather based seasons in favour of “stories” which last no more than 6 weeks. They have learned to engineer turn through the constant introduction of new ranges of merchandise which capture the imagination and sell through at a higher rate – achieving sell-out as close to six weeks as they can engineer.

They do not rely on the “weather changing” to drive a sales increase, they relay on the customers ever-shortening attention span and desire for newness to do it instead. In apparel and footwear, the concept of layering rather than winter weights has been with us since the 1980s. If there was ever a climate that this way of dressing was designed for it is Australia. Making heavy clothes for an ever-decreasing window of at most 4 weeks (which always seems to come in July) and trying to carry a seasonal sales drive off the back of it is increasingly illogical.

Turns and liquidation rates drive the profit of seasonal businesses, not climate.

More businesses need to rethink their entire merchandising strategies in favour of the new triggers of customer demand. If they did, they’d end up generating higher turn and better liquidation rates, surprisingly greater sales levels, higher profit and a more regular pattern o sales volumes that would be easier to resource to.