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Holiday 2019 Crystal Ball: A Good (not Great) Season Ahead

There’s no denying that Holiday 2018 was a very good year for the apparel and textile industry. And while the outlook for 2019 is bright, those hoping for a repeat performance shouldn’t hold their breath.

That was the sentiment received during Sourcing Journal’s recent Tariffs & Turmoil event, in which attendees remained hopeful—but not overconfident—about a positive fourth quarter.

Poof Apparel VP David Shalom said that although the first half of this year has been a little slower than expected, perhaps because of consumer distraction, the manufacturer of junior, ladies and children’s wear was optimistic about Q4.

“We found the first half of the year a little disappointing as far as retail is concerned. I think there was a lot of anticipation and hope that it was going to be a little stronger,” Shalom acknowledged. “The second half of the year looks very encouraging, and I hope the holiday/Christmas season is part of that.”

New products are expected to play a prominent role in that growth curve. “I think there’s enough product in terms of fashion and trend that we could [have a] very good second half of the year,” he said.

Maria Nyline-Asker, president of children’s apparel manufacturer Ayablu, agreed that products are an important part of any holiday strategy as it “gives consumers a reason to buy something over and above what they typically like.”

To be sure, the season is facing some headwinds when it comes to duplicating 2018. For one thing, the selling season between Thanksgiving and Christmas is very short this year, at just 27 days. For another, unemployment is already at record lows, so we’re unlikely to see a bump in spending thanks to people entering the workforce, noted retail analyst and consultant Jan Rogers Kniffen.

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“I think we’ll have a strong holiday season, but I don’t think it can be possibly as strong as last year,” he told Sourcing Journal. “But it could be as good as 2017 or 2016. Those were good years. We could still see 4 percent [growth]. That’s a pretty damn good year.”

And while online selling will reap the bulk of that growth—Kniffen said online selling penetration will see the largest acceleration since 1999—brick-and-mortar sellers that haven’t successfully leveraged e-commerce will fare less well.

Much less well, Kniffen predicted record store closings that could number as high as 12,000 storefronts, with woe especially unto those in malls.

Those experiencing their moments in the sun will be the resale and rental channels, like The RealReal, Rent the Runway, ThredUp, Tradesy or Poshmark. These types of sellers could see upward of 40 percent growth, Kniffen said.

“Nobody else is seeing that other than online,” he noted. “So if you’re off-price, off-mall, local, rental or resale—ta-da, you win.”