Looking Back on 2019, As Apparel Industry Prepares for 2020
Over the course of 2019, financial uncertainty subsided a bit as consumers set new records on spending and economic forecasters revised initial predictions in favor of increased optimism through the end of the year. Despite a continuing conflict with China and potential tariff issues with other trade partners, the United States economy saw bright spots.
Compared with January’s unemployment numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor that stood at 4 percent and 6.5 million unemployed persons, November’s figures, which were reported Dec. 6, saw a decrease in unemployment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment reached a 50-year low in November, decreasing to 3.5 percent and 5.8 million unemployed persons.
Even the final release of the quarterly UCLA Anderson Forecast reversed course on its earlier predictions that warned of a potential recession, now citing gross domestic product in fourth quarter 2020 is expected to reach 2 percent. By December 6, it had upgraded its national economic forecast through 2020 from 1 percent real growth to a fourth-quarter-to-fourth-quarter figure of 1.7 percent.
While 2019 saw a number of retail bankruptcies and acquisitions from the beloved Barneys to fast-fashion pioneer Forever 21, new opportunities arose through experiential models that saw pop-up shops, collaborations between brands, new designs for shopping centers and digital commerce. Entering the holiday season, a number of consumers hit the stores in bricks-and-mortar and online.
Coverage of our 2019 Retrospective on the financial happenings that affect the apparel industry begins here.