Saturday, January 31, 2009

Retail Seasonality Stinks

A few years ago some intrepid retailers figured out that most people don't want to buy sweaters in July or shorts in January. Lo and behold, their store sales numbers improved. That lesson seems to have been unlearned.

Despite the indisputable fact that K-mart sucks, I had reason to go there for an item that they carry exclusively and that I rather like. Of course, when I got there the item was not in stock. K-mart continues to suck.

But that wasn't the end of my retail adventure today. I also needed to replace the windshield ice-scraper that I broke this week. Still at K-mart, I picked up one of the last two ice scrapers in stock -- a ginormous one that resembles some sort of medieval weapon--, and one of the last few cans of de-icer spray.

I understand that retailers don't want to be loading up on toboggan hats just as the spring flowers are starting to poke through the ground, but retailers need to have some greater awareness of their customers' needs. I mean, it's still January, there's snow on the ground, and I broke my friggin' ice scraper with this week's lousy weather.

Yet JCPenney has shorts and summer polos in stock. K-mart had patio furniture and BBQ grills on display. The Bon Ton was a little better, but decided that empty floor space was better than having a few ski jackets.

Are people really building their summer wardrobes in the coldest weather of the year and with the economy on the rocks? Or do they just want to pick up another pair of black leather gloves?

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