Marshal Cohen, co-president of research firm NPDFashionworld, is the man with the numbers much of the industry relies on for insight into consumer attitudes and behaviors — and those numbers don’t generally bode well for department stores. In his presentation, Cohen offered data from a survey of 4,276 consumers conducted exclusively for the WWD/DNR CEO Summit that illustrated the drivers behind this trend and the various characteristics of each channel’s shoppers.

Understanding where shoppers are spending their apparel dollars is crucial today, given that the overall market shrank 4 percent between 1999 and 2000, noted Cohen. "Apparel has the dubious distinction of being the only business that we track that did not recover in 2001," he explained. While dollar volume declined 6 percent in that period in department stores and 10 percent in national chain stores, mass merchants like Kmart, Wal-Mart and Target experienced just a 1 percent drop.

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