Overstocks Not a Problem

Fears that January would find catalog warehouses brimming with unsold merchandise have been mostly unfounded. Even San Francisco-based Rochester Big & Tall, which saw catalog holiday sales fall 30%-35% from 2000, isn’t overwhelmed with overstocks.

Although the cataloger/retailer of specialty-size men’s apparel wasn’t able to reduce its inventory levels following the post-Sept. 11 plummet in business, “we were fortunate enough to be able to shift catalog inventory to store inventory,” says president Bob Sockolov. “Now that the holidays are over, we are actually in good shape.” Looking on the bright side, he adds that Rochester “had no problems with backorders.”

Multititle mailer The Swiss Colony was able to work with vendors to reduce its inventory levels back in September, says president John Baumann. So like Rochester, The Swiss Colony titles, which include gifts and home accessories books Seventh Avenue, Midnight Velvet, and Country Door, didn’t close out the year with an excess of overstock.

Women’s apparel cataloger/retailer J. Jill Group ended up with even less post-holiday inventory in 2001 than in 2000, says president/CEO Gordon Cooke. The company had anticipated the economic slowdown in the beginning of the year and had scaled back its order levels accordingly well before Sept. 11. “We ended up the year extremely clean in our inventory position,” Cooke says.