In this episode, I answer a few questions I’ve gotten regarding shopping during shutdowns–including should online sites even be selling right now, and what comes next? The truth is, I have no clue, but I do have a few thoughts on the subject!
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Read the full episode transcript below! – Ep 45 Office Hours Shopping in the Time of Coronavirus
Today’s episode of Office Hours is sponsored by Holding Hangers. I know so many of you are spending your time at home cleaning out closets and drawers, cutting through the clutter, and organizing all the things- I know I am! But when you’re working on your closet, take the time to upgrade your hangers. You won’t believe what a huge difference getting rid of those plastic tube hangers, or worse dry cleaner metal hangers, will make. And when it comes to your pants and skirts, you know I swear by Holding hangers. Their revolutionary design keeps your pants and skirts hung wrinkle free, and your closet will look so neat and organized. If you haven’t gone to their website to see how they work, take a minute check them out.
Everyday Style School listeners can take 15% off their first purchase by going to holding hangers.com and using code STYLE15. That’s STYLE15 in all caps.
Welcome back to Office Hours–the weekly show of the Everyday Style School podcast, where we answer one question, submitted by one of you fabulous listeners, to help make style easier, and getting dressed more fun.
I’ve been saying that this show will not become all Coronavirus all the time, and I have a lot of Office Hours questions to get through, which I am going to cover, pandemic or not, but I want to make sure that I answer these timely questions first, because God willing, these won’t be questions we need to cover for a long time.
Today’s episode is a mash up of questions I’ve gotten over the last couple of weeks, or questions I’ve seen in my groups, or that I’ve seen in other place all about shopping in the time of coronavirus.
The first question I’ve seen asked around the internet is “Should clothing retailers even have their online operations going at this point?” I saw a comment on one retailer’s Facebook page calling them a greedy, terrible corporation who doesn’t care about the health of its employees.
Someone else responded that they’re keeping at least some jobs going, and contributing to the economy through online sales…and someone else responded that clothes are essential. I see all sides of this one.
As I was shopping for more comfy pants, I thought “is someone out there putting his or her life at risk so that I can avoid real jeans some more”? But then I thought, that’s another person who’s still getting paid–and joblessness and financial insecurity is obviously a huge concern right now.
I guess you have to decide how you feel about it, and if you don’t feel retailers should be selling online, sit this shopping season out. That’s perfectly ok. If you feel you’re contributing to the economy and keeping people in jobs, that’s ok too. You’ve got to do what feels right to you.
The next question I’ve seen asked in a few places is “What’s up with shipping taking forever”? A few things– First, most warehouses are working with smaller crews, which means its taking more time for your packages to leave the warehouse.
Then, shipping times are taking longer as well, mainly due to a large volume of shipments. While both the FedEx and ups websites say they’re delivering things in roughly the same timeframe, both sites add that things could take a little longer.
In Amazon’s case, they’re prioritizing essential products, so you may see the cute t-shirt you bought put to the back of the queue in favor of someone’s laundry detergent.
The other thing that’s at play here is the retailers’ supply chains. Most retailers don’t house 100% of their online inventory in warehouses. Often, it’s housed on the sales floor of the brick and mortar stores, and sent where it needs to go when it’s ordered.
If you’ve ever had an online order arrive in separate packages–this is probably what’s happening.
Doing this allows for lower warehouse costs and less unsold product since all stores are pulling from the same inventory. Normally, this works great.
However, when all the brick and mortar stores are closed, and retailers can’t access a good chunk of their inventory easily, it’s going to slow things down.
One of our All-Access members told us that her daughter works for a big clothing retailer in store, and they’re being offered the chance to work a few hours to pack stuff up to ship.
But, the moral of the story is, most stores don’t have instant access to their online inventory right now, and that’s slowing things down.
I’ve been asked a couple of times “with all the sales right now, what should I be buying?”, and let me say first what you should not be buying.
You should not be buying anything you can’t afford. If you’re experiencing any kind of financial instability, or you’re worried that your income might not be as guaranteed as you think, this is not the time to shop.
It’s time to get in your closet, get creative, create your own Capsule, and make do for a little bit. It’s a big principle of mine to never go into debt for clothes. Even crazy low prices aren’t a good deal if they mean financial stress and worry.
On the other hand, if your job and income are secure, or you’ve got a business that’s thriving right now, you should be buying things you need and things you want.
I know you’re thinking, yeah–those are the two options, but let me explain.
First, you should always be focusing on things you need first. When this quarantine/shelter in place/social distancing, whatever you want to call it happened, I realized I didn’t have very many super casual things I liked.
I knew that in order to keep liking the way I look, I needed to do a little shopping and get a few tops and a couple of bottoms. Those were things I needed, so I shopped for those first.
The big thing here is to plan what you’ll need 3 weeks out. Because some things are taking a long time to reach us, planning ahead is key. Right now, look at how, or if, your weather will be different in a few weeks, and see if you’ve got what you need and what you want for that time–then shop accordingly.
I’m not buying more heavyweight bottoms and sweatshirts because in 3 weeks, I wont need them, so I’ll make do with what I’ve got.
Focus on what you need first, and then buy things you want. This doesn’t mean you should go crazy buying all the things, but if you see something you really love, and you’ll want to wear next year, and you can afford it without stress, buy it!
There was a really pretty ivory lace top that showed up in my inbox, and it is exactly the kind of thing I would wear next Easter, or to church, or for a speaking engagement.
So while I’m not doing those things now, I know I will again, and that’s the kind of top I don’t currently own, but would love to have in my wardrobe, so I bought it.
With that said, between the Stay at Home Style Guide we just put out, and the links I’ve been sharing on my Facebook page each Friday, I’ve been doing a lot of online looking lately, and I’ve come across a ton of pretty things–but I’ve bought barely any of it, because it wasn’t stand out special.
It wasn’t “this is a top that doesn’t come along everyday, I better get it while I can” kind of stuff. This is not the time to fill your wardrobe with eh, it’s fine or even, hmm, that’s cute, just because there are deals out there. There are always deals out there.
The last question I’ve gotten this week is “What comes next?” Will there be a lot of summer merchandise and sales out there”, and all I can say is I have no idea what the future holds.
I do know that a lot of retailers have decreased or cancelled their orders from manufacturers for both summer and fall 2020, which could mean tighter inventory levels, and even faster sell outs.
I think if I were shopping over the next few months and there was something I had to have, because I either needed it or loved it so much, I wouldn’t wait for a better sale, or add to cart and think about it–I’d grab it.
I anticipate lower inventory levels being an interesting challenge for the summer capsule guide, and one that we will figure out.
All the trade publications I read are talking about what’s next, and how will this change fashion and retail, and one of the big speculations is that the pandemic is going to make retailers focus more on in-season retail. Meaning, you’re not going to see as many shorts in February, or sweaters in August, as retailers focus on manufacturing shipping, and stocking merchandise that people want, and can wear right now.
Also, a McKinsey report I read said that they anticipate the pandemic will fuel discount demand even more as consumers are cash-strapped. So while I think there will be sales, I think there’s going to be less stuff, which I can’t say is a totally bad thing.
As we navigate these next months, I’m sure the retail landscape will continue to change, and I’ll keep you updated on things I think are important to know. But for now, Buy things you really need or really really love–if and only if you have the means.
Anticipate longer shipping times, and don’t buy things you won’t necessarily need in a few weeks, and going forward, if you love something grab it, because I think inventory levels are going to be tricky for the next couple of seasons.
Thank you to everyone who asked coronavirus shopping questions, and If you’re listening, and have a question you’d like me to cover in Office Hours, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once again, I’d like to thank Holding Hangers for sponsoring this episode, and don’t forget to visit holdinghangers.com and use code STYLE15 (all caps!) to take 15% off of your first purchase
That’s all for today–see you next week. Until then, stay safe and stylish!