US apparel retailers are witnessing worse-than-expected holiday season impacted by the recent government shutdown and growing online competition. With scattered crowds, empty malls and discount signs abound, fashion brands are trying hard to rescue the already dull season with offers to make up for the sales shortfall.
The number of shoppers has seen a sharp fall and dropped 16.5 per cent during the same period. Heavy discounting has already taken its toll on big apparel retailers, touching new highs and rising 13 per cent from the last year, eating away retailers’ profit margins.
Shares of big retailer like Express Inc plunged 24 per cent in the first week of December after it reported downbeat guidance for the rest of the year. With customers becoming more budget conscious, retailers like Aeropostale Inc., American Eagle Outfitters and The Gap are being forced to put up “80% off” & “Buy-1-Get-1-Free” offers to attract shoppers.
However, all is not lost with the few big shopping days still around the corner. The spending is expected to pick up in the week before Christmas. Reports suggest that sales growth would still be higher than last year and could touch be up 3.9 per cent. Together with online sales, which are already up 9 per cent from last year, 2013’s holiday season could still bring cheer to the faces of customers and retailers alike.