This past Market season for both Prom and Bridal was robust and lively, with exhibitors in all categories and all Markets reporting strong sales volume and enthusiastic buyers. This despite underlying concerns from all segments, including:

– the current state of the U.S. economy and what impact rising interest rates, threats of an impending recession, and increasing costs of goods and services will have on brides-to-be and prom girls shopping in 2023;

– finding, hiring and retaining staffing continues to plague industry wide;

– the need to protect/increase margins.

   In an attempt to address these questions, I’ve been following the reports from and about Big Retail (Amazon, Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Best Buy, Gap, Lowe’s) looking to see what strategic steps they are taking.
   The interesting detail that jumped out was that even though virtually all of these major retail players have seen dramatic drops in earnings this year each continues to increase capital spending/investments in technology, staff incentives, and upgrading and/or renovating stores and physical environments.
   Thomas O’Connor, vice president of supply chain-consumer retail research at consulting firm Gartner summed it up nicely in an interview with CNBC last month.
   “There is definitely concern and awareness about costs, but there is a prioritization happening. A lesson has been taken from the aftermath of the financial crisis,” he was quoted as saying.
   The lesson is from a number of business studies (most recently from 2019) that state when a company invests in systems, staffing and marketing during financial downturns it will rebound faster, gain market share and increase earnings over those who choose to cut back in an effort to reduce costs.
   So my point. . . No matter what the future brings, if you are developing contingency plans for controlling costs or for preparing for a possible downturn, do not put staffing and marketing on the chopping block. There will be plenty of prom girls and brides-to-be in 2023 that need to know of and about you!