By  on January 25, 1994

NEW YORK -- Unless SA wants to lose more ground in its fight to compete with regional marts, it needs to make it cheaper, safer and easier for out-of-town retailers to continue making buying trips here.

That's the conclusion of a national survey of 150 apparel buyers from everywhere in the U.S. but the Northeast. The purpose of the survey was to better understand the changing pattern of their trips into the New York market. In the last couple of years, many retailers -- including such large chains as Dillard Department Stores, Nordstrom, J.C. Penney Co. and Mercantile Stores -- have curtailed or eliminated buying trips here.

SA manufacturers say this has forced them to make more trips to visit retailers at their headquarters and has generally hurt business for firms without regional representation. Manufacturers and some retailers also say that lack of contact between senior retail and manufacturing executives has hurt business relationships, with profitability and product selection ultimately suffering.

The report, "A Study of Women's Apparel Buyers: Attitudes Toward Buying Trips to New York vs. Regional Markets," was financed by the New York State Urban Development Corp., the Council for American Fashion, the City of New York and WWD.

Its two main objectives were to uncover reasons buyers do not attend New York market weeks more often and to determine why some of them attend fewer New York market weeks than before.

In addition, an effort was made to learn what can be done in general to increase buyer attendance at New York market weeks.

The study suggests the need for a marketing campaign focusing on three areas of particular concern to women's apparel buyers: security, convenience and perceived complexity. The report's key conclusions are:

  • Real and perceived security risks pose a disincentive for buyers to travel to New York. Building, personal and street security all ranked very high in the range of elements important to buyers, with 83 percent of buyers who shop exclusively in regional marts considering personal safety and security as a "very important" reason for deciding to shop outside of New York. However, since only 13 percent of those surveyed mentioned security as a main reason for not coming to New York, improving safety alone will not be effective in increasing buyer attendance, the report states.

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