After two high school graduation seasons affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, some stores are experiencing a surge in grad dresses and suits.
Debbie Simpson, who owns Brides n’ Belles says her store’s grad sales are up over 20 per cent compared to last year.
“We have been extremely busy with grading,” she said. “I think it’s because COVID restrictions have been lifted. People are allowed to plan and they can plan a wedding, and they can plan for the graduation.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, high school grads were different with several public health orders still in place for the past two years.
“They know grad is going to happen and when they come in here, they’re so excited because they get to see the finished product before they actually go to grad,” she said.
The store began showing grad dresses in the fall, with many of its clients ordering them by the end of January. She estimates the store has sold roughly 200 grad dresses this year.
Despite the number of pre-orders, Simpson is seeing several people come in and purchase a dress last minute with June being one of the store’s busiest months.
Anthonys Fashion says they are experiencing its busiest grad season ever.
“We’ve seen really a lull in the last couple of years and I think people are ready to get out and celebrate,” said Anthonys Fashion Owner, Anthony Graham-Cutts.
Graham-Cutts says the store is seeing a number of Grade 8 students come in looking for suits. The store is “considerably busier” than past grad season, pushing the store’s tailor “beyond her limits.”
“It’s still that last-minute guy that’s coming in, in an emergency to find something that’ll work,” he said.
However, as public health orders may not be in place, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still being felt by the store.
“There’s a shortage across the board. Every store in town is dealing with the same issues and it’s really difficult to find sizing colours, that sort of product for any of these guys,” Graham-Cutts said.
The store is experiencing late arrivals making it hard to find sizing for certain individuals. He said some students did come in during January, with many aware of the supply chain issues and the problems it could cause for grad suits.
“We encouraged that because we knew it was going to be a bit of a difficult time as we got closer (to grad),” he said.