By  on April 26, 2007

The spring season is finally in full swing and Scarborough Research, based in New York, surveyed women about where they've shopped for apparel in the past three months. Not surprisingly, the majority of retailers chosen were department or discount stores, and three specialty retailers made the cut, too: Victoria's Secret, Old Navy and Gap. Some of the biggest spring apparel trends shoppers are finding are printed baby-doll dresses, silk jerseys, multicolored tunics, cap-sleeved blouses, peasant-style blouses and wide-leg pants.

WAL-MART

Percentage of women who said they shopped here in the last three months: 51

The world's largest retailer may be facing negative publicity and undergoing its largest store remodeling program, but women are still major customers. WWD reported earlier this month that the Bentonville, Ark., discounter plans to slow the pace of expansion in the U.S., "focusing instead on making existing stores more profitable." For example, Wal-Mart is creating better store displays in apparel and home decor. Allen Questrom's recent nomination to Wal-Mart's board could also raise the retailer's apparel status. Questrom is "expected to lend credibility to the panel, along with expertise in fashion....He is also seen as providing insight into relatively upscale products," said WWD. Wal-Mart currently offers apparel brands such as Hanes, Wrangler, George and Metro7 for women and, for the younger set, Mary Kate & Ashley and No Boundaries.

TARGET

Percentage: 38

At a presentation two weeks ago in Minneapolis, Target chief financial officer Douglas Scovanner told financial analysts that apparel and soft goods accounted for 22 percent of annual sales, or about $13 billion. President Gregg Steinhafel added, "Whether it's ladies' apparel or intimate apparel, we're going to push the envelope slowly but surely to bring our customer along into better goods." The mass retailer currently offers plenty of designer names for women, including Isaac Mizrahi, Proenza Schouler and Mossimo. Maternity maven Liz Lange also has an exclusive line for pregnant women. Along with designer names, Target has proprietary brands such as Xhilaration and Merona.

J.C. PENNEY

Percentage: 34

If any of the women surveyed live in Manhattan, they won't have to wait much longer to shop at Penney's: The company revealed last week that it had signed a letter of intent for space in the Manhattan Mall, near Macy's Herald Square flagship. After disclosing his goal was to make the retailer "the preferred shopping choice for Middle America," chairman and chief executive officer Myron Ullman 3rd told analysts Penney's had developed a five-year plan: "Our strategy includes inspiring our customers with our merchandise and services, [leading] in developing style and quality at a smart price and also [improving] merchandise relevancy." Penney's sells a variety of private label brands, such as Worthington and a.n.a., and plenty of well-known names like Liz & Co., Levi's and Sag Harbor.

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