The Lovely Boutique Market in Orlando’s Audubon Park neighborhood couldn’t get enough desks to sell during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, but now customers are buying less furniture and more clothes.
“We still see people buying furniture, it’s just not as high as when everyone was home and they’ve really had time to redecorate,” owner Kimberly Hellstrom said.
Instead, people want to look their best now that they’re dating again, and some might need to find new shape after gaining the dreaded “Covid 15” weight, Hellstrom said. Pre-pandemic clothes also now look old to some people after more than two years in the closet, she said.
Customers of The Lovely changed what they wanted around the start of the year. As the vintage store determines its stock based on the items it finds, national retailers are also seeing changes in how people spend their money.
During the pandemic, consumers were looking to make their life and work at home more comfortable and convenient with smart devices, home décor, furniture and exercise equipment, but now they are traveling and dining out, what demand thinner clothes, said Anand Krishnamoorthy, associate professor of marketing at the University of Central Florida.
In June, Target said in a press release that it was taking steps to “adjust its inventory” in what it described as a “rapidly changing environment.”
The retailer expects food and beverages, household essentials and beauty products to continue to grow, but “plans more cautiously in discretionary categories like home, where trends have changed rapidly since the beginning of the year”.
To accommodate the changes, Target revealed that it is planning additional markdowns as well as the cancellation of orders.
Target Deal Days, in its fourth year, is scheduled to take place July 11-13.
Macy’s saw customer demand shift from casual and active wear to second-hand clothing during the first part of the year, spokeswoman Stephanie Jimenez said in an email to the Orlando Sentinel. The retailer is working to rebalance its inventory while minimizing markdowns.
“The shift in demand for categories like dresses and bespoke apparel is good for Macy’s, that’s where we shine — so we’re continuing to build restocking inventory in those categories,” Jimenez said.
Goodwill Industries of Central Florida has seen an increase in apparel sales at its 30 stores over the past month, marketer Desi Pappas said. Goodwill’s Winter Park Boutique store saw more blouses, dress shirts, dress pants and business wear sold during this period.
At The Lovely, sundresses, jeans and vintage tees are popular right now, Hellstrom said.
Even with changing demand, Hellstrom said furniture and clothing sales were both higher than before the pandemic, which she attributes to marketing, being in a great neighborhood and the online business.
JR Quintanilla, 31, from Casselberry, has been shopping at The Lovely for a few years and stopped by this week when he was looking for a new sofa, chairs and other decorations as he and his wife upgraded their living room and their lair.
He ended up buying a poster covered in peace signs.
“I think COVID is interesting for me and my wife,” Quintanilla said. “We were obviously in the house and now we are still in the house. We feel more secure about it, but all of a sudden we’re like, “Oh, it’s kind of nice to be home.”
People who have spent two years improving their home lives with smart devices and exercise equipment aren’t going to suddenly lose interest in buying some of them, Krishnamoorthy said.
“For two and a half years, consumers have spent a lot of time making life and work more enjoyable,” Krishnamoorthy said. “Now, just because you’re able to go out, all these items aren’t going to get any less interesting to you.”
Mailyn Stiffler was shopping at The Lovely for the first time after seeing a friend’s vintage clothes. The 19-year-old college student, back in central Florida for summer vacation, found T-shirts she like.
“I definitely go out more to shop for clothes in person,” Stiffler said. “I think I was still shopping online during the pandemic…the last two months I’ve definitely been going out a lot more and shopping for clothes in person, which is my favorite thing by far.”
Hellstrom sees fluctuating customer demand as part of the roller coaster of doing business.
“There are so many milestones in our local economy that change things that you can never predict,” Hellstrom said.