Blog: Leonie BarrieConsumer caution weighs on holiday forecasts

Leonie Barrie | 10 October 2011

A strong end to the back-to-school shopping season and postponed demand following Hurricane Irene at the end of August contributed to the solid results rung up by many US retailers in September and reported on just-style last week. But consumer caution continues to hang over the latest holiday forecasts.

While overall September retail sales gains showed the continuing resilience of shoppers in the face of a number of strong headwinds, including uncertain labour and financial markets, many retailers still had to resort to discounts in order to drive demand. And new research suggests spending during the upcoming holiday season is likely to be average, with little variation from last year.

Last week was also a difficult one for the UK retail trade, with Tesco and Sainsbury's providing an update on trading and Mothercare posting a profit warning due to the continuing slump in consumer spending. While Sainsbury's pipped Tesco at the post in terms of growing UK sales, for overall prospects Tesco remains the darling of the sector. Its CEO also revealed the retailer is shifting more of its apparel sourcing to Europe and Egypt as part of moves to shorten lead times on clothing.

Up to 7,000 apparel workers in Newcastle, South Africa have been locked out after 40 employers halted production in protest against a series of raids for labour violations at a number of manufacturers. The raids saw operations in one factory stopped for not having safety guards in place, while there were also claims of safety exits not being demarcated, a lack of electrical certificates, and no soap or toilet paper in toilets.

A new report published by the US Labor Department lists garment, footwear and cotton producers among the worst offenders when it comes to the use of forced and child labour. The findings feature in the latest update to the 'List of Goods Produced by Child or Forced Labor' and cover a total of 130 goods from 71 countries.

And while it's no secret that Product Lifecycle Managment (PLM) has taken the global apparel industry by storm, a much older and less popular cousin - Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) - is now back on the radar as clothiers realise that linking it with PLM yields bigger benefits than using either technology alone. This month's management briefing from just-style looks at the rise of integrated ERP-PLM solutions, implementation issues, and its growth in emerging markets.


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