COVID's Impact on locally owned boutiques
We all had our lives interrupted or changed in some way due to COVID-19, and the fashion industry is no exception. I work as an assistant manager at a locally owned boutique in Oklahoma City. With shipment of merchandise coming in from all over the place, we saw a lot of delays throughout the duration of the shutdowns. After everyone went into isolation in March, we didn’t receive any new shipments of merchandise until mid to late July. This is crazy because we typically receive merchandise once every two weeks AT LEAST!! By the time we got a shipment in, it was nearly out of season. During a normal year, we would have jeans, sweaters and fall color palettes in stores and be ready to go in time for tax-free weekend. In retail, tax-free weekend is like a mini Black Friday!
On a typical tax-free weekend in a retail environment, back-to-school clothes are in and sales associates are ready for the crowds. This year however, we still had brightly colored summer dresses, tank tops and shorts due to delays in merchandise shipment.
As a result of the delay in shipment, we have seen lower sales than last year, because we don't have the trends, silhouettes or even seasonal colors that customers are shopping for. When we first reopened in May, we had a steady flow of customers. Because we were closed for a month and a half, I’m sure this was a result of pent-up demand, customers being excited to get out of the house or even people spending the extra money they received from the HEROES Act.
Although this is only from my personal experience, there are several small businesses in our communities that have taken a hit during this difficult time. They need all the help they can get to survive something as crazy as a pandemic. If you haven’t already, try to shop local to help out small businesses that are struggling.