Business at clothing stores in local malls during unseasonably hot October was so bad that retailers desperate to attract buyers have started unseasonal end-of-season sales. Food stores at the malls also suffered last month.
From January to August 2009, sales fell about 5% compared with the corresponding period in 2008, reports Ofer Shechter, CEO of Ariel Properties Promall Mall Management. Come September and October, sales at the fashion shops plunged 10% to 15% or more compared with the same months last year.
The source of the trouble was actually a combination of circumstances, including the continuing fallout of the recession, which hurt the fashion industry more than many other sectors, and the late onset of winter. People just weren't buying sweaters and flannel shirts in the baking-hot, 30-degree heat.
To fight the weather, fashion outlets such as ML, Hamashbir Lazarchan, Delta and Crazy Line began their end-of-season sales even before the season had started. Azrieli Malls, the biggest such group in Israel, is launching a sweeping sale at all its centers next week: discounts of 20% on purchases of more than NIS 200, over a three-day period.
"October sales fell substantially below expectations," admits Pe'er Nadir, CEO of Azrieli Malls. "The clothing stores are very far behind [their goals], so we had to give them a push. After they could not sell for a whole month, they understood something had to be done."
BIG Shopping Centers will apparently also hold a chain-wide sale in mid-November, two weeks before it usually embarks on its stores' seasonal discounts, says Hay Galis, management VP. The final decision should be taken shortly, after consulting with the store managements. Galis said he doesn't have figures in hand, but reports that sales were "really bad" last month, and estimates the year-to-year drop at about 10% or more.
But Moshe Rosenblum of malls operator Melisron thinks it's a mistake to launch special sales so early. "Soon we'll sell winter clothes in summer and summer clothes in winter," he railed.
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