Poor Weather Causes Out of Stocks

According to the WSJ, the snowstorms that blanketed much of the country in the past week caught apparel retailers in short-sleeves.

Most clothing chains have very little winter clothing left on their racks, the result of tightly managed inventories and better-than-expected holiday sales.

But, with nearly 70% of the country covered in snow, store shelves are mismatched to the weather: filled with new spring fashions that frigid customers aren’t in the mood to buy. The lack of appropriate dress could cost retailers some momentum after improved holiday and January sales periods, said analysts.

An employee at a Gap store in downtown Washington, D.C., said the store had been sold out of cold-weather hats, scarves and gloves for over a month.

Macy’s Inc. said, it’s My Macy’s merchandise localization program, which lets buyers modify merchandise assortments based on local needs, helped it avoid shortages. A spokesman said Thursday, that the department store chain planned for fresh flows of coats, gloves and hats in February and March in cold-weather markets. “Macy’s continues to have ample supplies of cold-weather merchandise,” the spokesman said.

This is an interesting example of how using EDI 852 and analyzing POS data may have been able to help avoid out of stocks. Although the fashion supply chain tends to have long lead times, if retailers and vendors had been more closely watching the weather and local demand signals, they may have been able to either reallocate inventory between warehouses and stores, or perhaps place additional orders.