Retail | When winter feels like spring

The cold seasons have been less and less in recent years, which forces retailers to focus on lighter clothing and to enter into spring fashion much earlier…in winter. Overview.

Alpine skiing snowsuits, thick coats and big, lined winter boots are increasingly being left abandoned on hangers and store displays, courtesy of an exceptionally mild winter and, general, climate change. Retailers are, therefore, reviewing their game plan.

Kanuk, a Quebec brand known for its coats designed to face Siberian temperatures, intends to launch slimmer mid-season style models. Sports Experts set foot in the spring three weeks early this year. Maguire, for his part, focuses on unlined boots inside which it is possible to slip a sole.

These retailers whose sales depend in part on Quebec’s northern climate recognize that they have had to adjust in recent years.

If the “cold” season this year ranks more in the list of “exceptional winters”, Paul-André Goulet, owner of 10 Sports Experts stores, still notes a certain trend.

It’s been several years since we changed our purchasing strategies to adapt to climate change. This is not a figment of the imagination. There are fewer certainties regarding the climate, it becomes more difficult for us to buy things while being sure that we will sell them.

Paul-André Goulet, owner of Sports Experts stores

Notable change: loss of speed for sales of snowsuits for alpine skiing. “It’s not multi-layered, it’s quite warm, it’s for just one sport. That’s losing momentum over the medium term. »

“What we see now,” he explains, “is that people are investing in quality, multi-use clothing: thermal underwear, fleece, a small down coat and a shell. »

Canada Goose, manufacturer of luxury parkas, seems to have suffered from the mild winter. By announcing a few days ago the layoff of 17% of its staff, the Toronto company acknowledged that “unusually warm temperatures have delayed the start of the parka purchasing season,” according to an article from The Canadian Press. “The first cold snap is boosting business,” said CFO Jonathan Sinclair during a call with analysts on March November to discuss the company’s second quarter financial results.

On the Kanuk side, the marketing director, Véronique Blais, recognizes that “coats for temperatures of -30°C this winter were not the most popular”. The company on Rachel Street in Montreal, which has no intention of abandoning the hot models that have made it famous, is therefore working on new collections.

“We are going to have more mid-season collections with coats for temperatures of 0°C, -5°C, -10°C,” she says. And we developed three-in-ones that still worked well. This is a category that people can wear in winter, fall and spring. »

Like Mr. Goulet, Véronique Blais spoke on numerous occasions about versatility during her telephone interview with The Pressa characteristic that future coats and all winter clothing must have.

Even the way items are presented in stores, commonly called merchandising, is changing. During the winter, in Mr. Goulet’s Sports Experts, there was less emphasis on snowshoes in favor of items intended for travel such as suitcases and swimsuits.


Even the way items are presented in stores is changing. At Sports Experts, the focus has been on travel items during the winter.

“It’s very unpredictable,” he adds. I have meetings that focus on: what do we do if there is no snow in December? How do we manage staff?

“It looks like we’re heading towards a winter that’s more like New York’s in recent years. »

In New York… as in Quebec

And the mildness of New York winters, Myriam Belzile-Maguire, co-founder with her sister Romy of the Maguire shoe stores, was quick to experience it. She quickly understood that this winter clemency would have effects on her business.


Romy Belzile-Maguire and Myriam Belzile-Maguire, co-founders of Maguire stores

When we opened in New York [il y a quelques années], we arrived with our winter boots. It was 50% of our turnover in Canada. We said to ourselves that we would be the only ones to have them in New York. But we realized it doesn’t really snow in New York. Everyone asked us for boots without the lining.

Myriam Belzile-Maguire, co-founder of Maguire shoe stores

Now, it is making the same observation on the Canadian market where it has a store in Montreal and another in Toronto. The star of the lined boot fades. “It’s been two years since we’ve seen that the winters are milder. We are really seeing a reduction in purchases of winter boots, she maintains. We had to change our product assortment because of global warming.

  • Maguire opts for unlined boots inside which it is possible to slip an insole.


    Maguire opts for unlined boots inside which it is possible to slip an insole.

  • Flat shoes are popular all year round, “which was not the case before,” explains Myriam Belzile-Maguire.


    Flat shoes are popular all year round, “which was not the case before,” explains Myriam Belzile-Maguire.

  • Due to global warming, Maguire had to review its product assortment and favor those with a flexible lifestyle.


    Due to global warming, Maguire had to review its product assortment and favor those with a flexible lifestyle.


“It’s difficult for many Canadian companies that specialize in winter because it’s no longer cold enough to justify an $800 purchase for a coat or $300 for a pair of boots. We changed our product offering. Now, what we sell all year round are flat shoes. I have the same bestseller all year round, which wasn’t the case before. »

Maguire also sells three-season boots that can be fitted with an insole for added warmth in cold weather. “We have a supplier who makes us an unlined boot and who makes tailor-made sheep soles to go in this boot. We try to favor products that have a flexible life. »

“Trees speak to us,” concludes Paul-André Goulet. If the trees start to sink at the beginning of February, obviously, the store will follow up. We always go where our customers want to be. »

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