The effect is felt thoroughly, from the world’s largest travel luggage company, Samsonite International, to Away, a brand of luggage directly to popular millennial consumers. A drop in travel, coupled with a sharp setback in consumer spending on selected goods, sent baggage sales down 80% in April, according to the NPD report released this week. “It’s like someone turned off the lights,” said Richard Krulik, CEO of Briggs & Riley’s high-end baggage brand, whose sales have dropped more than 50% since mid-March. Luggage sales were a bright spot before the pandemic struck, thanks to growth in business travel and leisure, said Beth Goldstein, an analyst with the accessories and footwear industry with market research firm NPD Group. Goldstein said industrial turbulence began at the beginning of the year when China, the main producer of luggage products, closed factories for a long period after the New Year because of the coronavirus outbreak there. So luggage companies are already dealing with delays in production and supply chains when coronavirus becomes a global pandemic. “That’s when the demand for baggage was completely closed,” Goldstein said. With the luggage market already full of many brands, he said a protracted decline in demand could mean some smaller brands “won’t be able to get past this.” Samsonite, whose portfolio includes namesake products in addition to brand names such as Tumi and Hartmann, said its net global sales dropped 80% in April compared to the same period last year. That dramatic decline in sales has forced Samsonite to fire or lay off employees and close shops. Away, which was recently valued at $ 1.4 billion in its latest funding round, also struggled. In a post in Medium last month, company founders Steph Korey and Jen Rubio revealed a more dire situation, saying sales of Away products had fallen more than 90% in recent weeks. “It’s not only difficult to do business during a global pandemic – for us, it’s almost impossible to continue our mission of changing travel when travel stops,” they wrote. Roadway has moved almost half of its team and placed another 10% discount. “This is a devastating decision and we consider it only a last resort,” they wrote. Problems don’t end there. Goldstein said baggage companies will now be stuck with a lot of excess inventory. “We can see more discounts happening in the category and some inventories might start appearing in off-price retail channels,” he said. That can damage profits in the long run. Retailers were also injured due to decreased demand. The Suitcase Shop in Lubbock, Texas carries a large selection of brand names, including Samsonite, Tumi and Briggs & Riley. “We are the only luggage shop in the city,” said Tiffany Williams, whose family has owned the store since 1951. Williams temporarily closed his shop on March 23. Although now offering roadside pickup, he said April sales fell 90% “compared to what we usually do on the moon when people buy luggage for their spring break or summer trip.” He was worried about his unsold sales. inventory. “We sat a lot on it,” he said. Williams recently launched a website for his store to see if he could get such sales appeal. After the travel restrictions began to subside, Williams doubted that it would translate into a big jump in air travel. “People might be more comfortable traveling, but you don’t really think of buying new luggage when you travel by car,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t know when we’ll sell luggage again.” .
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