Doing justice to the tens of thousands of numbers included in this study is a difficult endeavor. Here, a few nominees for the apparel "Oscars":

  • Discounters: "Jaws I, II and III." (sequels added just in case you thought it was safe to go back in the water...")

  • Dept Stores Redux: "Jurassic Park" (Ferocious comeback for the would-be dinosaurs.)

  • Chains: "Cocoon" (Re-engineered, face-lifted and back from the fat farm.)

  • Off Pricers: "The Hustler" (Lean, Mean and Ready to challenge the mall champs?)

  • Mail Order: "The Postman Always Rings Twice" (He needs to, with so many catalogs to deliver!)
The nineties seem to be shaping as the Discounter Decade. Discounters are estimated by Tactical to account for over one dollar in five, or 20 percent, of apparel sales this year. This will rise to 21.6 percent next year. By 1995, the discount store will have overcome a nearly four point deficit to become the number one type of retailer of women's apparel in the U.S. By next year, discounters, such as Wal-Mart and K-Mart, will even be the leaders in more expensive categories like coats and slacks. These merchants will gobble up half a dozen categories like sweatpants and panties with shares of 30-40 percent More Stats: by 1995, they will be number 1 in 14 key categories including key ones like jeans, shirts, bras and sweats.

Share of apparel, most simply reflects the aggressive growth of the discounters' format. The group is estimated by Tactical to rack up sales of roughly 30 billion this year and employing 1,250,000 nonsupervisory employees, making it far and away the largest retail segment in the US economy. Often acting as their own real estate developer (taking over from that cash strapped S&L ridden industry) Wal-Mart, K-Mart and their brethren have announced plans for dozens of new and larger mega stores in the next few years, totaling millions square feet. And "comp" sales keep growmg at a healthy clip, helped by assortments traited to a particular market's ethnic, age, and lifestyle characteristics.

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