TAKING STOCK IN SHAKY TIMES

Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg

NEW YORK — For two observers of the activewear sector, the future looks upbeat.
John Shanley, senior vice president of Wells Fargo Van Kasper, said with more teenagers receiving cash for the holidays from their time-starved and nontrendy parents, the two weeks after Christmas will be decisive ones for sporting goods stores and athletic specialty chains.
Given that, stores will ramp up their offerings with more high-end and exclusive products, and sharper-priced private label goods, Shanley said.
On the whole, sales of women’s activewear have been lagging behind, due largely to the lack of female baby boomers shopping in malls. Compounding the problem, many athletic stores spend less than 1 percent of their revenues on advertising and sales promotions, opting to rely on vendors to provide ad dollars, he said.
“We should see a nice strong holiday season; a dip in sales in the early part of the year, and then business should come back when spring merchandise hits stores,” he said.
Comfort should be a major selling point with consumers in the next few months, as already indicated by increasing interest in velour warmups, according to Jane Rinzler Buckingham, president of Youth Intelligence, which has the Cassandra Report and Trend Central Web site. It’s more about clothes for hanging out, than for hardcore athletics, she said.

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