One retail category that’s been fascinating to watch evolve over the last several years is the women’s athletic apparel segment. Judging by the number of times reporters have asked me about women’s athletic apparel retailers in the last few months, I’m not the only one who thinks so.
At a time when online sales seem to be inexorably chipping away at brick-and-mortar sales, taking a bigger bite with every passing year, the 2014 back-to-school shopping season has actually seen the exact opposite trend.
There have been more than a few headline-grabbing leadership transitions in the retail world recently. And, to be honest, “transitions” might be too gentle of a euphemism: some big names from some big-name brands have left, been fired, forced out, voted off the board, or otherwise pressured to step down in the last few months.
Believe it or not (and I can barely believe it myself), the critical back-to-school period at the end of summer is right around the corner. While back-to-school is always big for retailers, this year’s period could be an especially important one, as 2014 has been underwhelming so far.
Store closings are hardly an infrequent topic in this space. As a barometer for both the performance of individual brands and the market at large, they are an important part of the equation for any retail analyst. Store closings are part of healthy portfolio management for any brand, and, on a larger scale, bankruptcies and reorganizations are a reflection of the market at work.
At a time when sluggish-to-modest industry numbers have seemingly become the norm, and a protracted economic recovery inches forward, the recent spate of seemingly good retail and economic news has industry analysts and observers like myself raising a collective eyebrow.