Island shopping habits changing when it comes to clothes, retailers say

·2 min read

Islanders are still shopping for clothing during the COVID-19 pandemic, but some retailers say what they're buying, and how they're buying it, has changed.

With the outdoors being a safe place to physically distance, active wear and sporting goods continue to sell consistently on P.E.I., said Wes Slauenwhite, general manager of Sporting Intentions. And with more people working from home, some may be able to go for a hike at lunch time or leave work a bit earlier.

It's getting more stock back on the shelves that is the problem, he said. Many of his suppliers are running low on goods.

"We haven't been able to get 100 per cent of what we've ordered in any category really — soft goods, hard goods, footwear — but we're OK for now. I think that's going to change quite rapidly as we get into the busy Christmas season."

Julia Campbell
Julia Campbell

Joseph Dow of Dow's Fashions said sales for active wear and casual clothes have remained steady, but sales for formal wear have dropped. Dow said he's hoping for a strong holiday season, but expects he will be selling more sweaters than suits.

"There's no major events, there's no weddings, nobody's travelling for business, a lot of the office workers are not in the office. So basically they're not purchasing until they need it."

Ramping up online

Some P.E.I. retailers are taking their businesses online because of COVID-19. But that comes with its own challenges, said Julia Campbell of Jems Boutique.

The store ramped up its online presence shortly after the pandemic began. Campbell said while online sales have been strong, that hasn't been enough to make up for lost foot traffic.

"Running an online store is less of an extension of your current store [than] it is a second store," she said.

"So we've got to really look at what that means as far as marketing, merchandising — you still need to do all of that on your online store. And it takes quite a bit of time and resources."

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