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As if bridal isn't difficult enough

As if bridal retail isn’t difficult enough what with the speed of changing bride demographics and shopping preferences; the ongoing and very visible financial struggles of David’s Bridal and its impact on consumer confidence; the shifting and vanishing bridal media landscape, and the promotions from increasingly sophisticated direc-to-consumer web-sites that siphon sales from brick-and-click stores...we have the continued uncertainty of the trade spat between the US and China.

Many of you have been actively engaged in the effort to gain an exemption from these proposed tariffs by writing Congress, the President and in support of the IBMA and ABPIA’s efforts to rally the industry.

You are to be commended. I’m encouraged by the momentum of this industry-wide effort and reaction, and hopeful that we’ll keep the fires burning to address other pressing industry issues.

As of this writing, the Trump administration has delayed the imposition of tariffs, as negotiations with China have resumed. It’s too soon to determine if tariffs will return as a negotiating position, or when.

And there are a lot of moving parts here that could dull their impact... including what the factories may do to help out their US clients; the effect of China's currency fluctuations on the cost of goods, and how each individual manufacturer factors in the added costs.

The related issue raising our collective blood pressure: the increasing number and sophistication of Chinese factories creating direct-to-consumer sites developed to bypass wholesalers, retailers, duties and tariffs by delivering deeply discounted gowns as gifts or as undervalued declared items.

What’s driving this growth. . . Chinese equity and investment firms funding the development and promotion of these direct-to-consumer models delivering undervalued, one-off products regardless of the threat of tariffs.

This is clearly an industry issue that needs to be addressed, and tackled with the same intensity and momentum of anti-tariff campaigns.

This too is a major issue, and won’t be solved overnight. But your industry associations, led by the lobbying efforts of the ABPIA and PR campaigns led by the IBMA, are raising the issue and awareness.

They all deserve your support.There is strength in numbers. And in a unified vision.

 

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