Uniform Sales Rebound to Pre-Pandemic Levels as Classes Resume
(Bloomberg) -- A major maker of school uniforms sees sales rebounding as in-person classes resume, underscoring the broad strength retailers are seeing in the crucial back-to-school shopping season.
Jerome Griffith, chief executive officer of Lands’ End Inc., said the surging delta variant doesn’t appear to be hurting uniform sales. That’s unlike a year ago, when the business took a hit from the pandemic.
“It seems like things are getting back to normal,” Griffith said about his company’s school-uniform business. “They’re right around 2019 levels. It was one of the shining stars of quarter two because people started shopping earlier for back-to-school product and uniforms.”
Lands’ End reported fiscal second-quarter earnings Thursday, saying sales in its uniform business jumped 75% from a year earlier -- making them about flat with the 2019 period.
Retailers that depend on annual school-related spending for sales are betting on a big rebound this year as experts project a record season. With in-person classes back, shoppers are picking up more backpacks, apparel, supplies and other items they didn’t need last year during virtual learning. Deloitte LLP in July forecast that spending on back-to-school would increase 16% from 2020.
But the delta variant is disrupting plans in some areas. Districts through the South, including Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana, have quarantined thousands of schoolchildren and teachers after exposure to Covid-19. Griffith said that while revenue is returning, uncertainty remains.
“When I say normal, it’s on revenue levels,” he said. “I’m not going to say normal as an environment. I think the environment is still up for discussion.”
Lands’ End has also seen an uptick in sales of uniforms for the travel industry. The Dodgeville, Wisconsin-based company makes uniforms for American Airlines Group Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc. and Avis Budget Group Inc.
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