FINALLY! Italy is back in business
In late May most businesses were able to re-open after a very long and difficult lockdown which saw Italy in a very delicate situation for many weeks. This lockdown affected everyone from north to south and nearly all businesses had to close down and people were forced to stay at home. Grocery shopping and taking the garbage out were the most exciting things to do from early March until mid-May. This was very hard to digest for many companies in general.
The boardsport business was affected heavily as well but we also saw some positive trends. Especially skateboarding was and still is the big winner of the Covid-19 lockdown. Complete skateboards, cruisers and also other hardgoods sold extremely well online and after a while, stores that were locked down had requested so many units that it was even harder for distributors to get enough hardgoods to sell on. We haven’t seen a boom like this in skateboarding for a very long time. Retailers from north to south sold out nearly their entire stock of hardgoods.
In general, June performed very well, people really enjoyed their new freedom and even went out shopping and the new law of wearing masks was not an issue at all as people really understood the necessity. Luckily this was the case as retailers were in dire need of liquidity and sales. July was slower but still alright considering the overall economy is forecast to shrink from 8-11% by experts.
Not having an online store was the biggest challenge for many smaller brick and mortar retailers as that meant they had nearly 3 months with no turnover at all. Italy, which is surely a bit behind in terms of digitalization, is for sure now moving much faster into the new online chapter and many stores are focusing now on their online presence. Even if it’s only with some very simple online store pages or a good social media presence. 2020 has taught everyone that having a second pillar to their business to create turnover has become crucial.
The big question mark now is the near future and how things will evolve. SS21 pre-books are starting later than usual and stores are pre-booking more carefully as everyone is afraid of a second wave and a lot of SS20 stock is still on the shelves with companies who are ready with FW20 deliveries.
Eric Mader from Fresco sales agency adds, “SS21 has started later and slower and many stores also opt for online ordering rather than traveling to showrooms and want to order safe sellers and are very careful when introducing new product categories or brands.”
Tourism started back up again by the beginning of July and the surf hardgoods business was strong as people really enjoyed staying outside, surfing, SUPing and all the other activities they couldn’t enjoy during lockdown. Participating in sports outside gives you freedom and makes you feel secure, so that’s why the whole hardgoods sector is doing so well. The winter season now really depends on whether the infection rate stays low or not, as otherwise we could face a very difficult winter season, which is causing many sleepless nights to many retailers already.
Alessandro Ricci from ASA sales agency agrees, “if business will move on like it was in June and July we should get through this 2020 with a black eye but if things should get worse it could be a killer for many retailers nationwide.”
So stay safe and wash your hands… Ciao!