April 28, 2020,

Non-Essential is how certain fashions are being described during the purchasing phases of the 2020 coronavirus pandemics.

That term is relative, especially if you are employed in the fashion industry.

Who would have thought during the fashion boom that working at the 99 Cent Store, Target and Walmart would give you far more job security after you graduated from college and began to pursue career options than with major retailers?

An industry that was previously struggling has recently been sledge hammered by the recent pandemic.

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The global news source CNN shares on April 8, 2020, “People have stopped shopping at stores, and many online shoppers are holding back on discretionary purchases. That has left luxury and fashion companies “exposed or rudderless,” and business will sink by as much as 30% this year, according to a new report released Wednesday from trade publication Business of Fashion and consulting firm McKinsey & Company.”

The report analyzed that 80% of the companies surveyed expect to encounter financial hardship this year, and it forecast a significant number of bankruptcies within 18 months if stores remain closed. Retailers across the globe have temporarily closed because local governments shuttered non-essential businesses to stop the spread of Covid-19.

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Their research is supported by Forbes Magazine which reports, “By now, the devastating impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on retail is becoming well known. March retail sales fell a record 8.7%, and it seems a virtual certainty that the April numbers will be far worse given that the wide-spread shuttering of “non-essential” brick-and-mortar operations across the United States did not take hold until mid-month.”

Desperate retailers have been working frantically with vendors to cancel orders, return already received merchandise and obtain special markdown allowances.

The news and information leader CNBC adds, “Fashion brands rely on sales in department stores to pay their bills. Demand for new product has disappeared over the past month, as major American retail chains, including Macy’s, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, have shuttered their stores amid the coronavirus pandemic. Many are not paying for shipments of products already in their stores.”

That means retail brands need cash immediate cash flow.

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They still have to pay their seamstresses, for materials, to buy garment bags and to prepare for the crucial holiday season.

Layoffs are starting to mount.

Even with companies once thought to be recession proof.

Chrome Hearts is a brand of high end silver jewelry which also produces gold, diamond accessories, leather, clothing, furniture, incense, and eyewear.

The organization was founded in 1988 in Los Angeles by Richard Stark, John Bowman and Leonard Kamhout.

The production site covers three blocks in the middle of Hollywood.

Location. Location. Location.

Who have been their clientele?

Bono, Steven Tyler, Elton John, Karl Lagerfeld, Jaye Muller, Kanye West, Cher, Kate Hudson, Carine Roitfeld, Britney Spears, Fergie, and LeBron James are fans of the brand.

Slash, Sebastian Bach, and Melt-Banana have played music in the Chrome Hearts office space.

As shared by the fashion insider WWD, “The Los Angeles-based luxury brand, known best for eccentric biker-themed jewelry and accessories favored by a long list of major celebrities, has permanently laid off 100 employees in the U.S., WWD has learned. The layoffs are thought to affect the majority of its retail employees in America.”

This story is being echoed across America.

Regarding retail store closings, vox.com adds, “Those closures are dealing potentially catastrophic blows to cash reserves and accelerating trends in consumer behavior that could spell doom for large swaths of brick-and-mortar retail and the 16 million people the industry employs. Nearly 1 million retail workers were furloughed in a single week recently, according to the Washington Post, and more than 250,000 stores have been shuttered, according to GlobalData Retail. Some analysts predict 15,000 retail stores will close permanently this year, which would mark a 60 percent increase from last year’s record closures.”

The shockwaves are not limited to the United States. They have crashed into European shores as well.

BBC reported, “The figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the steepest sales fall since it started collecting the data in 1996. Food and online shopping rose, and alcohol sales also jumped. But clothes sales tumbled by 34%. Online shopping as a proportion of all retail reached a record high of 22%, the ONS said.”

Within those numbers there appears to be a glimmer of good news.

Food and online shopping rose.

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Someone in our circle can attest to that.

To visit with her parent in an assisted living facility, she now has to Skype through a webcam to speak with her relative. Previously she drove a 4 hour roundtrip drive but once the pandemic spread, understandably the facility was closed to outsiders.

She tried purchasing a webcam from Walmart, Target and Office Depot and they were all out.

Best Buy in her area had temporarily closed its doors.

As much as she hated to, she had to order online.

She finally decided upon Amazon and her order is scheduled to take at least 2 weeks for delivery. But at least she’ll finally have a webcam.

Yes, online sales are indeed up.

Amazon is one of the largest beneficiaries of that.

CNN Business educates, “shares of Amazon (AMZN) have surged about 30% this year and finished at a new all-time closing high of $2,410.22 on Friday.

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The Jeff Bezos-led company is now worth $1.2 trillion — about the same as Apple (AAPL) and trailing only cloud rival Microsoft (MSFT) in the battle for the most valuable publicly traded firm in the United States.”

Even during the direst of times, when there are many who have lost substantially, there emerges substantial winners.

Amazon and the global retail leader Walmart are continuing to be big winners as many Americans shelter in place and order nearly everything they need online.

Additional good news there is that Vox.com reported that Google searches for Amazon are at near-holiday-season levels; in-store sales at Walmart skyrocketed in March; and together both companies are hiring 250,000 new workers.

The hope is that whenever this pandemic at least subsides, even if it doesn’t permanently go away, retail will rebound. We all need a little fun and style in our lives. At times we all desire some non-essentials.

Even if we have to wear a mask to buy it.

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https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/08/business/fashion-luxury-industry-coronavirus/index.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevendennis/2020/04/21/covid-19-and-fashion-and-luxury-retails-lost-season/#7e4bdd8b707f

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/08/coronavirus-could-spell-doom-for-fashion-brands-as-demand-money-dry-up.html

https://wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-scoops/chrome-hearts-coronavirus-layoffs-in-fashion-retail-1203621451/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrome_Hearts

https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/26/investing/amazon-stock-coronavirus/index.html

https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/4/10/21215953/amazon-fresh-walmart-grocery-delivery-coronavirus-retail-store-closures

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