Retail | The return of “Steel Dress”

The era of “soft” clothes may soon be over. As stylish jackets, pants and other evening wear find their captors once again, Quebec retailers expect their sales for 2022 to be comparable and even higher than those recorded in 2019, before the pandemic.

Posted at 6:00 AM

Nathael Morissette

Nathael Morissette
Journalism

In April 2019, sales of apparel and accessories — including footwear — in the country were $2.9 billion, compared to $3.2 billion for the same period this year, according to Statistics Canada. In April 2020, at the height of the pandemic, they were 414 million.

With weddings back, evenings at restaurants and business organized in hybrid mode, can Quebec retailers hope for better days? “2019 was good for us, but 2022 will be even better,” says Jessica Rossi, co-owner of Mode Choc, which has 10 stores in Quebec. It expects to increase its sales this year by about 15-20% compared to 2019, the year before the pandemic. If M.I Rossi understands that the price of clothes has gone up, and she still expects to sell more volume. Along with Maison Simons, owner of 16 stores, including 10 in Belle County, President and CEO, Bernard Leblanc, expects an increase of about 5 to 7%. Our 2022 is shaping up to be much better [que 2019]. »

Photo by Robert Skinner, the press

Bernard LeBlanc, President and CEO of Simons

During the pandemic, retailers have reported selling more T-shirts (blouses and jackets) than bottoms, in part due to the many virtual meetings in which participants’ legs were not visible. However, this trend tends to disappear, according to Franco Roque, director of marketing at Suzy/Le Château Group. “There are new trends in socks. The style has changed. We have loose-fitting pants. It creates an incentive to renew the wardrobe.”

And this “return to coquetry” affects sales. “There really is a resurgence of solid clothing, notes Jessica Rossi. In 2020-2021, we no longer sell pants. That’s when we hit record sales of pajamas and sportswear. During the pandemic, people spoiled themselves with comfort, but not in looks.”

Inflation also works in his company’s favour. “We sell clothes for the whole family at affordable prices. Due to our accessibility, perhaps with the pandemic and inflation, families decided to adopt us when they went to more expensive stores before. We think we gained new customers.”

great surprise

As for Simmons, Mr. LeBlanc himself admitted, even if he had expected a “return to the shops” in the spring, he would not have expected such enthusiasm. “We are always surprised by our good industry,” he says with a laugh. This is a positive surprise. »

Just like M.I Rossi, Simons’ senior president, also points out that consumers are returning to certain sections that have been neglected during the pandemic, such as workwear and evening wear.

“I think people haven’t updated their wardrobe for two years. Today, they find themselves faced with a wardrobe that needs updating,” he says by way of illustration.

“Everyone completely retired for two years, and today people are back on track, resuming normal activities, they want to have fun. I think it’s a combination of factors,” he adds fromJust back from Halifax to announce the opening of 17e in 2024.

April wasn’t that bad.

Meanwhile, overall retail sales for April rose 0.9% to $60.7 billion, according to Statistics Canada data released on Tuesday. “With a noticeable increase of 0.9%, April was not the worst month for retail sales, but rather exceeded expectations, can we read the economic news published by Desjardins. Sales rose in 6 of the 11 sub-sectors, which together account for just under 45% of the retail trade.”

Among the categories, miscellaneous retailers — pet and hemp, office supplies and stationery stores, as well as swimming pool retailers — saw an 11.3% increase. Gas stations (+3%) and clothing and accessory stores (+2.6%) also saw increases.

Consumers during the pandemic, retailers of building materials and gardening supplies as well as supermarkets, however, saw a decline of 4.3% and 0.5%, respectively.



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