Local clothing companies have reason to be optimistic – Sourcing Journal

With global recession fears, inflation worriesand drought conditions so bad dinosaur footprints show up in dry rivers, it may come as a surprise to find that small businesses and local retailers are looking to 2022 as the year of optimism.

This was the consensus during the Connected Consumer roundtable, “Key Trends Defining the State and future of local retail”, presented by Retail Touchpoints.

“There are so much optimism because people are getting back together with live events and it just feels like we’re back to normal,” said Dan Gingiss, author and retail thought leader. “I think one of the things that really came to light at the start of the pandemic was how unprepared most businesses were for a major disruption to their business. [Next] no matter what happens to us, whether it’s another pandemic, or an environmental disaster, or who knows what, I think you’re going to see that businesses are better prepared, because we have now seen this happens when we are unprepared. And it’s pretty ugly. I think what probably gives confidence as well is that now there’s this feeling that we have that. Even if times are tough ahead, we can face it.

Hally Pinaud of Podium, vice president of product marketing, who also participated in the Connected Consumer panel, said her company had conducted research that found there was five major trends when it comes to local retail. First, efficiency is the name of the game and retailers need to work smarter, not harder. Second, consumers have changed with a dramatic shift towards digital transformation. Third, convenience is paramount when it comes to getting repeat business and referrals from that new consumer. Fourth, companies invest in technology to succeed. And finally, consumers have emerged from the pandemic with a renewed appreciation for local businesses.

“I think a lot of us have really seen firsthand with friends and family the impact of this upside down for the past two years, about the businesses we love and care about, whether it’s retailers, restaurants and everything in between,” Pinaud said. “We’re much more aware of the role these companies play in our community and that’s borne out in consumer data.”

Most consumers (70%) say the pandemic has changed the way they will shop for clothes in the future, according to Cotton Incorporated’s 2022 Coronavirus Response Survey (Wave 12, July 2022). That number jumps to 67% among customers under 25. The good news for neighborhood stores is that 25% of consumers report spending more at local businesses, according to Cotton Incorporated’s 2022 Coronavirus Response Consumer Survey (Wave 10, March 2022). And nearly a third (30%) say they intend to shop After in local stores such as boutiques for their clothes.

When it comes to their digital transformation, the overwhelming majority of consumers (91%) say it’s important for retailers to offer online ordering with curbside or in-store pickup, according to the Coronavirus Response Survey (Wave 10 ).

Today’s savvy consumers have also learned to use live chat customer service (37%) and plan to use it in the future (17%), according to the Coronavirus Response Survey (Wave 10). They also plan to use product recommendations based on their browsing and shopping habits (21%), as well as free returns so they can try on, touch and see clothes in real life, then decide what they like and want to keep (25%). percent).

A recent report from the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) said its Small Business Optimism Index rose four-tenths of a point in July to 89.9. Owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months rose 9 points from June to 52%. One source of this positivity includes the drop in gas price at a national average of $3.89 at the time of this writing, up from $4.38 a month ago. Moreover, the United States inflation has fallen slightly to 8.5% in July, thanks to the drop in energy and gasoline. Additionally, economist Ian Shepherdson told CNBC he expects to see greater lower inflation.

“In the United States, I’m quite happy to say now that inflation is down — both title and core,” Shepherdson said on a recent episode of CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “And the next few months should see it drop quite sharply.”

The coming months will also bring retailers into the height of the holiday season. This presents an opportune time to reflect on the goodwill that neighborhood shoppers have towards local merchants. But retailers can’t rely on a community’s spirit of the season alone. Gingiss says they have to meet consumer expectations on the playing field today.

“The days of ‘People should do business with me because I’m the local business‘ are over,” Gingiss said. “It’s not how customers feel more. Now, do they want to spend money with local businesses? Yes, they do. But we still expect it to be a good experience. It’s okay if you’re not necessarily the cheapest option. But I come to my local business because the owner is a community member, and the owner knows me and my kids. Or there’s a level of community that you can’t get by going online and ordering from an e-commerce site. It’s part of what builds the experience of a local retailer. You think, ‘I want to go because, man, I’ve been going to this same store since high school and they know me.’ That’s what Amazon can’t do, right? They know me from an algorithm, but they don’t to know me. They don’t know me as a person. While a local store does. So, I would put all my emphasis on the experience. And if technology helps that, fantastic. In some ways, it certainly will. And in another way, it’s just about leaning into the fact that you’re local and using that to your advantage. This is your advantage.

The Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor™ is an ongoing research program that measures consumer attitudes and behaviors around clothing, shopping, fashion, sustainability, and more.

For more information on the Lifestyle Monitor™ survey, please visit https://lifestylemonitor.cottoninc.com/.

Gladys T. Hensley