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Sinking Into Irrelevance – Lands’ End, Eddie Bauer, Talbots

04/17/2013

pinocchio1While researching apparel sales statistics for a client we stumbled on a treasure trove of data about the sales of various apparel brands. The stats account for the number of people shopping various brands for apparel – not the dollar volume of sales. Regardless figures don’t lie and trends can be readily seen.

Virtually everyone knows the past 5 years have been rough on retail. Apparel retail has been hit especially hard. Not surprisingly some brands have held their own, others have gained and some of the industry’s vaunted names like Lands’ End have tanked.

Here’s a snap shot of what we found:

Held Their Own

Target – Spring ’08 around 73 million people shopped for apparel. Spring ’12…73 million. Ho-hum…if it weren’t for groceries we wouldn’t go there.

Macy’s – Spring ’08 45 million people shopped for apparel. Spring ’12…45 million. Wait a sec…is that where you can buy Martha Stewart – or is it Kmart, or JCPenney?

Tanked

Gap – Spring ’08 around 23 million people shopped for apparel. Spring ’12 a dismal 15 million. Death spiral since Drexler left.

Eddie Bauer – Spring ’08 3.4 million people shopped for apparel. Spring ’12…2.6 million. Mr. Bauer must be spinning in his grave over what they’ve done to his vision.

Talbot’s – Spring ’08 a paltry 2.7 million people shopped for apparel. Spring ’12 a miniscule 1.7 million. Whoops…all those traditional gals are shopping Plus Sized now!

Lands’ End – Spring ’08 around 8.6 million people shopped for apparel. Spring ’12 a shocking 7.5 million. Whatever happened to them?

So where did the consumer go for apparel? Last time I checked people were still wearing clothing in public. They must be buying it somewhere.

Gained

Kohls – Spring ’08 around 49 million people shopped for apparel. Spring ’12 grew an impressive 14% to 56 million. They cleaned up on the spoils of JCP’s debacle while upping their game by collaborating with designers left and right.

TJMaxx – Spring ’08 around 15 million people shopped for apparel. Spring ’12…19 million. They buy, source and build to a demand, customized merchandising (better zip codes get better/pricier merch) and new stuff weekly – how can you not shop there?

The great recession caused a tipping point for America’s long-standing brands. And these stats don’t even include the epic fades of JCPenney, Sears, Kmart and Shopko.

If one learns anything from these stats it should be this – a brands’ unique selling proposition only works if it is truly unique. Being indistinguishable is death. Doing the same thing over and over again has been called the definition of insanity. In this business it’s also the recipe for self-destruction.

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