As the pandemic subsides, Orlando shoppers buy more fancy clothes, less furniture – Orlando Sentinel

The Lovely Boutique Market in Orlando’s Audubon Park neighborhood couldn’t get enough tables to sell during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, but now customers are buying less furniture and more clothes.

“We’re still seeing people buying furniture, it’s just not as loud as it was when everyone was home and they really took the time to redecorate,” said owner Kimberly Hellstrom.

Instead, people are wanting to look their best now that they’re going out again, and some may need to find a new fit after gaining the dreaded “Covid 15” weight, Hellstrom said. Clothes from before the pandemic also now look old to some people after more than two years in the closet, she said.

Lovely’s customers changed what they wanted at the beginning of the year. While the vintage store determines its stock based on the items it finds, national retailers are also seeing changes in the way people spend their money.

During the pandemic, consumers were looking to make living and working at home more comfortable and convenient with smart devices, decorations, furniture and fitness equipment, but now they are traveling and dining out, which require finer clothing, said Anand Krishnamoorthy, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Central Florida.

In June, Target said in a press release that it was taking steps to “rightly size its inventory” amid what it described as a “rapidly changing environment”.

The retailer expects food and beverage, household items and beauty products to remain strong, but is “planning more conservatively in discretionary categories like home, where trends have changed rapidly since the start of the year.”

To deal with the changes, Target revealed it was planning additional markdowns in addition to canceling orders.

Target Deal Days, now in their fourth year, are scheduled to take place July 11-13.

Macy’s saw customer demand shift from casual and active to occasion-based 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, minimizing markdowns.

“The shift in demand for categories like dresses and bespoke clothing is a good thing for Macy’s, it’s where we shine – so we continue to build aftermarket inventory in these categories,” Jimenez said.

Central Florida’s Goodwill Industries saw a surge in clothing sales across its 30 stores last month, said marketing expert Desi Pappas. Goodwill’s Winter Park Boutique store saw more blouses, dress shirts, dress pants and business attire being sold during this time.

At The Lovely, sundresses, jeans and vintage T-shirts are popular now, Hellstrom said.

Even with the shift in demand, Hellstrom said furniture and clothing sales are higher than they were before the pandemic, which she attributes to marketing, being in a great neighborhood and online business.

JR Quintanilla, 31, of Casselberry, has been shopping at The Lovely for a few years and stopped by this week while looking for a new sofa, chairs and other decorations as he and his wife upgraded their living room and office.

He ended up buying a poster covered in peace signs.

“I think COVID is interesting to me and my wife,” Quintanilla said. “We were obviously in the house and now we’re still in the house. We feel safer with that, but all of a sudden, we’re like, ‘Oh, it’s good to be home.’”

People who have spent two years improving their home lives with smart devices and fitness equipment won’t suddenly lose interest in buying some of them, Krishnamoorthy said.

“For two and a half years, consumers spent a lot of time making life and work more enjoyable,” Krishnamoorthy said. “Now, just because you can go out, all those items aren’t going to make you any less interesting.”

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 her summer break, found some T-shirts that she appreciated.

“I will definitely go out more to shop for clothes in person,” Stiffler said. “I think I was still shopping online during the pandemic… in the last couple of months I’ve definitely gone out a lot more and bought clothes in person, which I prefer.”

Hellstrom sees the fluctuation in customer demand as part of the business roller coaster.

“There are so many milestones in our local economy that change things you can never predict,” Hellstrom said.

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