Will Fashion’s Night Out Really Boost Retail Sales in NYC?

It has finally arrived! Tonight is the biggest night of the year for Anna Wintour, the folks at Vogue and the industry as a whole: Fashion’s Night Out 2010 in New York City.

Events are sure to draw a crowd, but will they draw buyers?

This year’s event promises to be even bigger and more star-studded than last year, with retail store appearances from such celebs as Mary J. Blige, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Bar Rafaeli, Nigel Barker and Simon Doonan among others. The hype has been spiraling for weeks now, but, while part of the point of Fashion’s Night Out is to boost enthusiasm for fashion among shoppers, the goal of boosting retail sales is just as, if not more important for the future of the fashion business.

So, will Fashion’s Night Out 2010 exert the desired push on consumers to come out and buy products to ignite fashion’s economic state?

It really could go either way. Last year, an impressive $500,000 was raised for the NYC AIDS fund with the sale of FNO T-shirts {Gather Business}. This year, 40 percent of sales from the shirts will again go to the AIDS fund {Fashion’s Night Out}, and the charity initiative is likely to be a continued success.

As for actual retail sales, last year’s results were quite mixed. {The Huffington Post}

Barneys Creative Director Simon Doonan said last year’s FNO was not “incredible from a business point of view. But from an energy point of view, it was fabulous.” {Gather Business}

The 2010 event, however, already has a leg up on last year’s festivities. Even more events and celebrity appearances have been planned, with 1,000 retailers scheduled to participate to last year’s 800. Add to that the augmented pre-event buzz and the fact that more people are likely now aware of FNO’s existence and legitimacy (as well as Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s support) and FNO 2010 could be the financial success that last year’s event fell somewhat short of.

It certainly looks promising, but here is why we worry that once again the energy of the night will outperform the actual sales: the average shopper is not in much better shape financially than they were last year. This shopper for one is not even sure she wants to attend FNO because she knows she cannot afford to buy a damn thing, and there will be just too much temptation. If she does go, she is leaving her credit cards at home. Let’s hope not too many other fashion lovers feel the same way. Check back here soon to find out how the night went!

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