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Resign, Realize, Renew

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, during the months of April, May and June 2021, a total of 11.5 million workers quit their jobs.

The United States has weathered a number of “great” historical events. The Great Fire of Chicago (1871), the Great Earthquake in San Francisco (1906), the Great Depression (1929-’32) and more recently the Great Recession (2007-’09). The country is now in the throes of two more: The Great Resignation and the Great Realization, a one-two psychological, COVID-connected phenomenon causing millions of employees to leave the work force and/or search for better pay, benefits, perks, location, flexibility—they have great expectations.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, during the months of April, May and June 2021, a total of 11.5 million workers quit their jobs. A percentage of these workers were in the childrenswear industry, and manufacturers and retailers are feeling the impact. Marshal Cohen, Chief Industry Analyst of the NPD Group of Port Washington, NY, refers to the ongoing Great Resignation/Realization as “COVID Carryover.” Cohen says. “Between government stimulus money and the savings of childcare for working families who were no longer working, people decided to make significant lasting changes to employment—especially to dual-income households. We saw forced job disruptions from COVID-19 turn into choice disruptions.”

To help find and retain qualified staff, companies need to not only reevaluate their benefits,  but also their overall work environments. One of the most important factors is, of course, offering competitive pay. The less obvious ones, according to Cohen include childcare or supplemental childcare payments, flexible hours and deeper discounts to help support the need for wardrobing kids. “Most of all, help employees grow, learn and evolve. Put more into how to make the workplace a more comfortable environment,” he says.

While our industry struggles with labor shortages, the market itself is performing significantly better than it has in the last two years. According to data obtained from the NPD Group, children’s apparel was up a whopping 18.6% as of October of this year. It had dropped 8.4% in 2020 and only experienced an 8.7% increase in 2019. The 2021 numbers indicate that even with fewer people working, especially in an office, and dressing their kids in more athleisure clothing, the volume sales in this category are way up.

This positive news provides the perfect segue into our final and celebratory issue of the year, the 2021 Earnie Award Winners and their Profiles in Design Excellence. Get to know the 22 companies behind the best-in-class products, from girls’ apparel and gifts to sleepwear and special occasion. Perhaps next year, your company’s name will be on this coveted list!

We also take a deep dive into a segment of the industry that’s often overlooked—sales representatives and their showrooms. These professionals bring a wealth of knowledge to both sets of their clients—manufacturers and their independent specialty stores. Despite dealing with shifted business models from COVID, staffing issues and supply-chain disruptions, regional sales rep are working harder and smarter than ever to ensure that the next season is as successful as possible. I hope you enjoy reading all of the content in this issue as much as I did writing it.

Best wishes,

Michele Silver

Congratulations to all of the 2021 Earnie Award Winners. Earnshaw’s hopes that everyone has a profitable 2022 and above all, a happy and healthy New Year.

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