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“We’re going to come out of fall with a lot of extra merchandise,” Harris said, adding that she also will stow away unsold snowboots. Although spring footwear has been selling earlier than normal for this time of year, fashion-centric fall boots have been marked down at half off. Promotions may deepen in the coming weeks, depending on how business goes, she added.
Retailers in areas that have warm temperatures year-round have been less affected by the weather. For Miami-based World Class Footwear, the spring season looks bright.
“In South Florida, we pretty much only have a spring and summer, so we don’t have this critical weather problem that other people have,” said VP Gina Hanna. “We bring in a lot of our spring brands early [every year], especially for the tourists from Central and South America.”
With locations throughout Southern California, Kitson owner Fraser Ross is also expecting a strong spring. “We’ve always had that type of seasonal business influx,” he said.
Forecasting a 20 percent increase over last year, Ross is banking on shoes priced under $100 to drive most of the sales.
“Inexpensive shoes are actually the new black,” he said. “People will spend their money on that this spring. They want their high-end heel, but in general, they want more options in their flats.”
Ross added that spring styles from Minnetonka, Toms, Havaianas and Splendid have had a great start at his stores.
Brooke Jaffe, fashion accessories director for New York-based department store Bloomingdale’s, predicted that color-blocked sandals and single-sole pointy-toe pumps will be the hot sellers this spring. “We are most excited about color for spring in really saturated brights such as cobalt blues, bright corals and even neon pink,” she said.
And retailers may have a reason to be optimistic. According to Deloitte’s most recent spring consumer survey, 57 percent of shoppers polled feel the economy is performing better this year, compared with 52 percent in 2011.
Deloitte vice chairman of U.S. retail Alison Paul said these results, along with other factors, suggest a strong season for stores. “[Consumers] are edging up in confidence,” she said. “Between the really warm weather, retailers putting their spring merchandise on the floor and a somewhat better feeling on the economy, we think this bodes well for shopping.”
Although shoppers are still cautious about spending money, Paul noted that people are more willing to buy items such as shoes and accessories because they’re not “budget-busting” splurges. And the mild winter might have put a little extra money in shoppers’ pockets, because they weren’t buying cold-weather gear, she added.