Best-sellers in summer apparel and resort clothing vary around the country, but tips for selling more of these clothes remain remarkably consistent, from fresh displays to social media and customer interaction. The big news is the growing influence of social media in drawing customers to shop and raising interest in new arrivals.

At Amenah, in Laguna Beach, Calif., Hannah Levy co-owns the 1,000-square-foot shop with Partner Amelia Lia Shales. Levy said when it comes to lifting sales she uses a combination of techniques and approaches. “It is many different things combined: social media, customer interaction – we have a lot of dedicated regular customers who are always looking for new items and display. We are a small store, so we keep things fresh and that relieves us of having unsold things get backed up.” She said her social media revolves around Instagram and Facebook. “We emphasize showing new items and well-designed items. We have photo shoots every one to two weeks so that we always have images we want to present.” She also holds marketing events in the store, inviting local social media influencers and bloggers into the shop.

Owner Keirstin Selvage of Selvage Boutique in Hermosa Beach, Calif., offers a styling service in addition to merchandise. Social media itself is a strong tool for Selvage. “It’s bumped up a lot of interest for me,” she said.

Her best-selling summer apparel and resort-wear are cocktail dresses. “They’re elegant and perfect for cruises and resorts. We have elegant summer blouses that do very well too, and are perfect for the weather here and transitional seasons. We also have sun dresses that are terrific for summer, and appropriate to wear over a bathing suit or slip on over shorts to make it into a casual evening outfit.” Another top seller: “We have a lot of wonderful cardigans and sweaters in soft, light chenille that allow you to carry on into the evening.”
Heading closer to Los Angeles, at the diminutive, 350-square-foot Selvage Boutique in Hermosa Beach, Calif., Owner Keirstin Selvage said her store’s overall experience is what drives sales. “I offer styling service when people come in, and just the act of coming in, seeing the materials, feeling them, getting that whole experience, the good customer service – that’s the best way to sell,” she asserted. “I do use social media, however, and I get a lot of followers on Instagram, and people will notice what I have, and they’ll direct-message me, or come into the store and say they saw something online.” She added, “I also do email blasts to alert my clients; I think that’s a good portal as well, to let people know what we have here.” Social media itself is a strong tool for Selvage. “It’s bumped up a lot of interest for me.”

Her best-sellers come from three different resortwear lines. “Khush, which is from Hawaii, Le Salty Label from Australia, and Miss June from Europe, those are my number one sellers that I blow out of my store. We do very well with tops, caftans, dresses, dusters, skirts, and blouses.”

In Galveston, Texas, at the Emboldened Elegance Boutique, Co-owner Heather Mikel related that the best way to boost sales is a combination of things such as “intimate interactions with the customers who come in, cross-merchandising apparel with our jewelry, and using a color story to enhance our displays. We also dress our mannequins in what we carry, and we wear the clothing that we carry ourselves so that people can see how it looks. I think that is very important.” Best-sellers? “Summer dresses, things people can wear both on the beach and out to a restaurant in the evening. Tropical prints and strapless looks have done very well for us.”

In the warm sunshine of Lake Havasu, Ariz., Deane Duncan owns the 1,800-square-foot Hotoveli Boutique, just blocks from the water. Duncan also does a lot of in-store selling and interaction with her customers, gaining knowledge about what they want, while imparting her own information about the clothing she carries. “We also do a lot with social media. Both Facebook and Instagram do well for us and bring people in. I haven’t done email blasts yet, but I do have a reward system that I can use to contact customers, where they get a bonus after making some purchases and that type of thing.” In regard to displays she said, “The most important thing is to keep things looking fresh. We change things around all the time. I use color themes and many different cross-merchandising combinations; and whatever comes in as a new arrival I focus on presenting very well.”

Her best-selling summer apparel and resort clothing are cover-ups and dresses. “Free People is my biggest brand, particularly for dresses. And I just launched the Johnny Was resort collection.” The collection has a Bohemian feel like much of that clothing line, and the resort wear is a first. “It’s the first resort collection from that brand, and it offers everything from cover ups to palazzo pants and swim suits. I expect it to continue to do very well.”

2Bella Boutique is a chain of resort apparel shops that includes Sausalito, near San Francisco, Calif.; Santa Barbara, Calif.; and Reno, Nev. among the store’s six locations. The Reno location is 2,900 square feet, according to Owner Carola Summers. To sell more apparel items of all kinds there, Summers relies on email blasts that inform customers about new arrivals and looks, as well as offering “friendly, attentive customer service” the moment a customer steps into one of her shops. “We are located in six different resort towns. We carry swimwear and beach cover-ups in the summer as well as dresses from short to maxi styles.” As to the most popular brand, that’s easy for Summers to answer. “We only carry our own.” And among the line’s most popular items are “summer maxi dresses and coverups.” According to Summers, “The maxi dresses are very popular because they can easily shift from day to night and be trendy in style by season while still retaining an elegant look.”

While offering good customer service in-store, and focusing on extra efforts such as pop-up shows and events for local influencers are important, one of the most significantly growing ways to drive business and sales is social media. And when it comes to the most popular resort wear and summer apparel, loose and flowy, or elegant and showy, the main consideration for popularity is how versatile an item may be. If it can carry you from beach to dinner, it’s a style that many seek.