Saskatoon grad clothing stores have busy seasons

After two high school graduation seasons affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, some stores are seeing an increase in grad dresses and suits.

Debbie Simpson, owner of Brides n’ Belles, says sales to graduates at her store are up more than 20% from last year.

“We’ve been extremely busy with the graduates,” she said. “I think it’s because the COVID restrictions have been lifted. People are allowed to plan, and they can plan a wedding, and they can plan graduation.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, high school graduates were different with several public health orders still in effect for the past two years.

“They know graduation is coming and when they get here they’re so excited because they get to see the finished product before they actually go to graduation,” she said.

The store began showing grad dresses in the fall, and many of its customers ordered them in late January. She estimates the store has sold about 200 grad dresses this year.

Despite the number of pre-orders, Simpson sees several people walk in and buy a dress at the last minute, with June being one of the busiest months for the store.

Anthonys Fashion says they are having the busiest grad season ever.

“We’ve really seen a lull over the last two years and I think people are ready to get out there and celebrate,” said Anthonys Fashion owner Anthony Graham-Cutts.

Graham-Cutts says the store sees a number of 8th graders shopping for suits. The store is “considerably busier” than the previous grad season, pushing the store’s tailor “beyond her limits”.

“It’s always that kind of last minute thing that happens, in an emergency, to find something that will work,” he said.

However, as public health orders may not be in place, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still being felt in the store.

“There is a shortage at all levels. Every store in town is facing the same issues and it’s really hard to find sizing colors, that kind of product for one of those guys,” Graham-Cutts said.

The store is experiencing late arrivals, which makes it difficult for some people to find sizes. He said some students arrived in January, many of whom were aware of supply chain issues and the problems it could cause for graduates’ costumes.

“We encouraged that because we knew it would be a bit of a tough time as we got closer (to graduation),” he said.

Anne G. Cash