“Out of Season” – Maybe Not

It’s always amazing to me how the apparel industry’s “seasons” work. Around early August, you start seeing ads for fall clothes and accessories. By August 15 or August 20, it’s in full swing – ads for winter coats and umbrellas – just when I’m getting ready for the beach! Now, I live in Southern California where it’s essentially summer until about November 1. I don’t even think about buying any winter clothes until around Thanksgiving. And when the rain and cold weather (ok – it’s not that cold but it’s cold enough!) eventually comes to So. Cal. – as it usually does in January – I’m scrambling for a raincoat. And this got me thinking…by the apparel industry’s calendar, when I want a raincoat they are thinking about spring or even the next summer. Many of the industry’s patterns are driven by old models based on cold-weather states. Now, I understand the need to have your freshest inventory out to the market in plenty of time. Every retailer and wholesaler does. But my point is that the market in the U.S. is so diverse and so large that no one model can adequately account for it. One person’s excess inventory or overstocks in one region might be prime inventory for retailers in another region. Whereas people in the northeast bought their umbrellas and raincoats in September, out here in Southern California we’re not buying them till January. And this phenomenon isn’t just true for apparel – think about accessories like umbrellas. Or maybe even BBQ grills. In September, I might still be in the market for one – especially if I can get it at a good price. This can be true for many different types of consumer products. We aren’t talking about niche markets here either. Obviously Southern California is a huge market, but don’t forget about states like Nevada, North Carolina, and Texas – all places where population has boomed in the last 20 years. Don’t write your out-of-season inventory off. There’s probably someone somewhere who wants it.

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