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Remember Shopping For School Clothes?

November 3, 2010

When I was a kid my Mom took my sister, Jody, and I out school clothes shopping about a week or two before school started. It was always a big day in our house for my sister as she would scour the Sears and JC Penney’s catalogues for months prior to that day just do get the perfect dress. Too bad she didn’t do the same for her wedding dress but that’s another blog and an ongoing family joke…LOL I on the other hand hated going school clothes shopping as I was a big kid and in those days the sizes for boys pants were one of three: slim, regular and husky. I’ll never forget standing in Sears while the sales clerk yelled across the store to a co-worker “Do you have any of that blue pant in a husky?” As you can imagine I shrank in shame, but that again is another blog. In those days we got three of everything: three shirts, pants (and for Jody three dresses), two pair of shoes (one tennis and the other a dress shoe), underwear, t-shirts and socks. Oh and a belt as where I went to school you had to wear a belt or were sent home.

As I grew into adulthood, married and had children I wanted that school shopping experience to be unlike my own. fortunately I had two girls so they were loving the shopping experience from the get go. It became more fun for them once I divorced their Mom and we did the school shopping on our weekend together in some exotic location like the Mall of America in Bloomington MN, or Eastridge in San Jose, California.

But times are different now as fashionistas take a hit in the wallet. After declining for decades, clothing prices are headed higher. Countless teens who pay for their own school clothing may have to do some extra chores next year, as higher production costs threaten to make fashion statements more expensive. For decades, apparel has claimed an ever-smaller share of our pocketbooks relative to other expenses. For the ten-year period through 2009, consumer prices overall rose 29%, but apparel prices declined 8.6%. That will change in 2011.

Manufacturers are getting squeezed by higher cotton prices, increased transportation costs and upward pressure on wages in China, where so much of what we wear is made. Retailers are expecting to pay more for merchandise, and it won’t be long before some of these hikes are passed along to customers. The age of deflation for apparel is done, and it’s not going to come back anytime soon. Markups are likely to remain in the single digits, percentage wise-$1 more for a $20 graphic T-shirt, for example. You may not even notice the increase, with pricing changes masked by a change in seasons or the launch of a new trend – a shift from clean denim to distressed denim, for example. Retailers, selling low-cost basics, from underwear to khakis, will be least able to pass on increases. Instead shoppers should be on the lookout for a decline in quality.

One more example of how this frail economy has a domino affect on everything. At GAI (www.gunwel.com) we want to help you budget for your school clothes shopping trips as well as anything else that is need of a budget. Give us a call at 212-979-6830 or stop by for a visit as we’d love to hear about your shopping trips! See you soon.

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