The evolving landscape in the aftermath of the post-pandemic boom presents both unique challenges and opportunities as the industry navigates changing consumer behaviors and expectations. This year's WWD Apparel & Retail CEO Summit - themed Thriving in a Post-Boom World - will dive into how brands and retailers should be speaking to their consumers in this era of slower growth, potential recession, ongoing war, China's reopening, AI and more.
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Letter From The Editor
April 2020. That was the month the world seemingly shut down and was in chaos. No one knew what was happening and everything around the globe seemed to be teetering on the brink – from our personal lives to our professions to businesses overall.
All but essential stores were closed; retailers and brands wondered what to do with unsold spring-summer merchandise, and whether there would even be a fall buying season beyond toilet paper, paper towels, canned goods and home testing kits.
But then something relatively unexpected happened: Consumers began to shop – for clothes, shoes, bags, jewelry and beauty. Online shopping became the go-to stress release for many people and what appeared to be a lost business year suddenly became a strong one as consumers continued to buy, and buy, and buy.
Retailers and brands from late 2020 through 2022 saw growth that was unthinkable only three years ago and almost paralleled – double-digit percentage increases quarter to quarter and 30, 40 and even 50 percent above 2019 levels. There appeared to be no limit to spending, even as China was effectively shut down, and Americans seemed to be colonizing Europe as much to buy luxury goods as to sightsee.
But reality hit in this year’s first quarter. Even as China reopened and American tourists continued to flock to Europe, business slowed rapidly, as if consumers had suddenly slammed their wallets shut when it came to fashion and beauty (although not travel and experiences). While still far above 2019 levels and growing, the days of double-digit sales increases appear to be over.
So what does the industry do now?
Hence the theme of this year’s WWD Apparel & Retail CEO Summit: “Thriving in the Post-Boom World.”
We are assembling an impressive lineup of speakers who will outline strategies across retail, fashion, accessories and home and interior design on how to continue to grow in a landscape that has irrevocably shifted. It has, in many ways, become survival of the fittest more than ever.
Post-pandemic, consumers are even more demanding in terms of personalized service and product quality. The pressure to ensure sustainable business practices grows. Supply chain issues, while lessened, remain. And there are new technologies – from that once-hot only a year ago word metaverse to today’s hot topic artificial intelligence – that will disrupt the industry across the board.
More than ever, hearing from peers and outsiders on the road ahead is vital to growing one’s business. So please join us on October 24 and 25 at Cipriani South Street in Manhattan for this year’s WWD Apparel & Retail CEO Summit, which also will include the WWD Honors dinner on October 24.
I look forward to seeing you there. Meanwhile, stay safe.