In the build up to last weekend’s Fashion Night Out Atlanta festivities the entire city was a buzz with excitement over discounts, in-store events, free cocktails, and the fun that would be had by all. While ballroom dancing lessons and Moon Pies at Jeffrey and photo-shoots and cocktails at Saks are a great way to draw a crowd the purpose of Fashion’s Night Out is shopping, something that many event attendees failed to comprehend.
Every shop from Midtown to outside of the perimeter pulled out all the stops to bring shoppers in to boost their sales in a struggling economy. Local celebrities who had not left town for New York Fashion Week were once again enlisted to give Atlantans the opportunity to rub an elbow or two while looking at the latest fall pieces from their favorite brands. From pop-up shops hosted by Gilt City Atlanta and Modern Luxury featuring local designers and shops and internationally renowned designers like Frank Tell to a shop designed and curated by HGTV’s Michael Habachy of HGTV’s Design Wars, no resource was left untapped and no red carpet unrolled. However, in the midst of free Sinless Margaritas, glasses filled with champagne and arms extended to receive every freebie imaginable, where were the shoppers? Of course some stores reaped the benefits of tapping into petty cash and sacrificing a portion of their gross margins to bring in a few more sales on a Thursday night, but what about the retailers that didn’t? If you were out and about during the weekend long celebration that was Fashion’s Night Out Atlanta, you may have seen revelers enjoying fashion shows, mingling over a drink or two, and taking in the sites, but the people who were carrying bags of things they actually paid for were few and far between.
Much like last year, when Atlanta first entered the Fashion’s Night Out fold, shoppers are still conscious of how far their money goes. Instead of trying to spend $200 to receive a free-gift or relying on the promise of being wined, dined, and entertained, this year’s Fashion’s Night Out attendees were on the look out for special promotions and pricing. The retailers that were not offering special FNO discounts to accompany their champagne undoubtedly saw a significant spike in foot traffic and perhaps a minor increase in sales, but since designer duds ring in well above affordable even with the discount it is likely that many retailers simply kept it in the black after accounting for their out of pocket expenses and margin eating promotions. Hopefully, next year shoppers will get the message that for Fashion’s Night Out to continue we must loosen up our purse strings and support our local department stores, speciality shops, boutiques, and designers. At the end of the night, that’s what this global initiative is all about.