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Where are the clothes? Shoppers find store shelves thin

Stores struggle with new clothing shortages
Nordstrom Executive Q&A
Posted at 11:47 AM, Aug 24, 2021

Shoppers are ready to restock their closets for the fall and winter, but many are asking, "Where's all the clothing?"

Kristin Sterling was trying to do some school shopping at TJ Maxx. Inside, she found a much smaller selection than she has seen before.

"I've been looking for baby items, as well as for a teen, a school-age child," Sterling said. "I'm finding that there's not that much clothing."

Shoppers across the country are finding half-empty clothing racks and shoe shelves out of popular sizes at many stores.

Clothing items at two TJ Maxx stores we checked were sparse, and a third of a Burlington store we checked was closed off with a divider and used as storage.

High school sophomore Mia Dressel was looking for a homecoming dress with her grandmother, but they were growing frustrated.

"All the dresses were really, really short, or really long," Dressel said. She said she didn't have better luck at the mall.

Mall and department stores struggle with inventory shortages

Retail stores everywhere, including department stores, are coping with product shortages as the holiday shopping season begins.

According to Kerry Byrne, CEO of freight broker Total Quality Logistics, it's all because of pent-up demand after the pandemic, combined with supply chain breakdowns.

"What we are seeing is a disruption in the supply chain that sometimes happens when there is a limited capacity," Byrne said. "But now, with the labor shortage, it has just been exacerbated."

Byrne said a shortage of plant workers and truck drivers, coupled with cargo ship backups from overseas, means shelves may not be much fuller for the holidays.

The CEO of TJ Maxx and Marshall's parent company, TJX, told analysts recently they don't have as much product as they would like, but they believe it is a short-term issue.

A TJX spokesman said that shoppers should check several of the company's stores, as all have different brands, sizes and stocks.

"As an off-price retailer, we deliver great value on ever-changing selections of items at prices generally 20-60% below full-price retailers’ (including department, specialty, and major online retailers) regular prices on comparable merchandise.

Unlike other types of retailers that buy seasonally, we have new merchandise arriving in our stores several times a week, with each delivery containing thousands of items.

This ever-changing selection creates the “treasure hunt” shopping experience that our customers enjoy. Every store’s assortment is different, so if our customers didn’t find what they were looking for in one of our stores, they might find it in another."
TJX statement

Burlington's CEO told Wall Street that shipping and freight costs had surged this year, forcing the company to be smarter about how much inventory it can order.

But this means customers may want to start holiday shopping early, so you don't waste your money.


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