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Shop ’Til You Drop

U.S. metropolitan markets ranked by average amount spent per household on women’s apparel, in descending order.<br><br>For the story behind The List, see page 12.<br><br><br><br>1<br><br>STAMFORD-NORWALK, CONN. Average spending on women’s...

U.S. metropolitan markets ranked by average amount spent per household on women’s apparel, in descending order.

For the story behind The List, see page 12.

1

STAMFORD-NORWALK, CONN. Average spending on women’s apparel: $1,663 2002 Household income: $167,860; Number of households: 134,363

The area takes in the gold coast of Connecticut, which includes Greenwich and Westport. No one knows this market better than Jack Mitchell, ceo of Mitchell’s of Westport and Richard’s of Greenwich, two upscale specialty stores. “The consumer here is either an executive, is married to a gentleman who’s an entrepreneur or the ceo of a major investment bank, or the head of GE or IBM. She’s 35-to 55 years old and she definitely is fashion conscious.”

2

SAN JOSE, Calif. Average spending on women’s apparel: $1,444 2002 Household income: $129,051; Number of households: 587,758

San Jose women prefer quiet luxury to the flash and dash seen in some of California’s bigger cities. More often she’s a technology executive than the wife of one. She’s had a tough economic go of late, but the downturn hasn’t dampened her appetite for fashion. But according to Crystal Chow, style section editor of the San Jose Mercury News, “She doesn’t like to stand out.” She’ll now be able to shop at the upscale Santana Row, which is opening today.

3

SAN FRANCISCO Average spending on women’s apparel: $1,152 2002 Household Income: $103,014; Number of households: 692,344

Plenty of women gravitate to Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, and the high-end boutiques of Union Square. But San Francisco has always had a nonconformist streak. Veteran retailer Susan Folsien, the owner of two Susan stores and two Grocery stores in San Francisco and Burlingame, Calif., caters to a more experimental crowd. “I’ve spent 10 years building the Junya Watanabe business,” she says. “I love to help women to think modern.”

4

MIDDLESEX-SOMERSET-HUNTERDON COUNTIES, N.J. Average spending on women’s apparel: $1,088 2002 Household Income: $101,571; Number of homes: 427,707

“My customers are upper-class suburban housewives,” says Pam Schroeder, the owner of Epitomy, a specialty store in Bernardsville. “There is still quite a bit of old money in this area as well.” Residents also shop at the Mall at Short Hills in Millburn. They visit Epitomy for special occasion clothes from Philosophy by Alberta Ferretti, Moschino and Diane Von Furstenberg. “My gals are very fashion conscious,” said Schroeder. “They’re not leaders, but they’re right after that.”

5

DANBURY, CONN. Average spending on women’s apparel: $1,048 2002 Household Income: $102,534; Number of homes: 79,026

Affluent Litchfield County is part of the Danbury metro area, and the area is undergoing a housing boom. Nearby New Milford had the most housing starts of any town in Connecticut, according to Maura Ruby, general manager of the sprawling Danbury Fair Mall. “We have a lot of corporate headquarters,” here, she said, noting Pespi and a slew of pharmaceutical companies. “There are a lot of women who have broken the glass ceiling.”

6

SEATTLE-BELLEVUE-EVERETT, WASH. Average spending on women’s apparel: $1,044 2002 Household Income: $90,385; Number of homes: 987,967

Seattle natives have a tendency to wear granola clothes. “Patagonia is probably on nine out of 10 people’s backs,” said Julie Merriman, owner of Olivine Atelier in the Ballard area. Her store attracts women from Bellevue and other affluent suburbs who are willing to drive 30 or 40 minutes for Tocca, Three Dots, Juicy Couture and Paper Denim & Cloth. “There are very few specialty stores in Seattle,” Merriman said. Nordstrom caters to women who like classics with flair.

7

BOSTON, MASS.-ROCKINGHAM, N.H. Average spending on women’s apparel: $1,038 2002 Household Income: $88,623; Number of homes: 1,329,961

Looking for that frugal Yankee sensibility in Boston? “That’s the old Boston,” said Tina Cassidy, fashion editor of The Boston Globe. The city’s tech boom and financial service companies have attracted people from all over the U.S. The Copley Place Mall is booming with Christian Dior, Gucci and Louis Vuitton. Chanel opened a store on Newbury Street. “Boutiques are opening in the suburbs for stay-at-home moms who wear nothing but Marc Jacobs,” Cassidy said.

8

ESSEX, SUSSEX, UNION, WARREN, MORRIS COUNTIES, N.J. Average spending on women’s apparel: $996 2002 Household Income: $90,783; Number of homes: 735,505

The upscale powerhouse Mall at Short Hills attracts customers from Essex and Union Counties, while Morris County shows its fashion savvy with a new Century 21. Deborah Gilbert Smith’s eponymous specialty store in Millburn caters to “very sophisticated urban women who have chosen to move to the suburbs. They’re a young-thinking population and they want to be current. If there’s a new pant out, they want it.”

9

HONOLULU Average spending on women’s apparel: $994 2002 Household Income: $82,472; Number of homes: 288,554

Given its geographical position in the Pacific Ocean, a prerequisite for affluent Honolulu women is travel. Those who jet eight hours to Japan or five to Los Angeles strike up an affinity for luxury brands and continue to build brand loyalty at home. If she’s not a corporate executive, this woman is very visible in philanthropic circles. She’ll choose a Chanel suit and Ferragamo shoes for day and Gucci or YSL for charitable events at night.

10

BERGEN and PASSAIC COUNTIES, N.J. Average spending on women’s apparel: $994 2002 Household Income: $94,297; Number of homes: 497,799

Bergen County is a shopper’s paradise. On route 17 in Paramus, stores of every stripe line the highway cheek-to-jowl. Bloomingdale’s and Saks anchor Riverside Square Mall, where specialty shops include Tiffany & Co. and Louis Vuitton. The sprawling Garden State Plaza has everything from J.C. Penney to Neiman Marcus. “Ninety percent of the women shopping here are working,” said Brenda Haas, Riverside Square’s marketing director.

11

TRENTON, N.J. Average spending on women’s apparel: $988 2002 Household Income: $93,329; Number of homes: 126,882

Many of the Trenton women who work in government, law offices or corporations such as ETS, Squib and Johnson & Johnson shop at Lord & Taylor or other specialty stores. The big money is in Mercer county, which includes Princeton, an affluent old guard community. “Women in that area buy quality, but they’re not interested in flaunting style,” said Sharon Schlegel, a features writer at the Times in Trenton. “It’s old guard.”

12

NASHUA, N.H. Southern part of Hillsboro County, N.H. Average spending on women’s apparel: $984 2002 Household Income: $84,039; Number of homes: 73,128

Dave Solomon, editor in chief of the Nashua Telegraph, said factors contributing to the area’s high spending include the large number of women who work in Boston and the lack of sales tax, which begot a huge retail infrastructure. “There’s much more shopping than the area itself can support,” said Solomon. The area draws also consumers from affluent suburbs such as Hollis, Amherst and Bedford.

13

BOULDER COUNTY, COLO. Average spending on women’s apparel: $983 2002 Household Income: $82,253; Number of homes: 119,098

In Boulder, style has little to do with fashion and everything to do with lifestyle. Residents spend money on outerwear and high performance sports apparel, shopping at popular stores such as REI. “People will buy $400 Gortex jackets or $200 Nortex fleece vests,” said Cindy Sutter, features editor for the Boulder Daily Camera, adding, “It’s almost pretentious to dress up.”

14

ORANGE COUNTY, CALIF. Average spending on women’s apparel: $979 2002 Household Income: $86,580; Number of homes: 964,296

In Orange County, wives of corporate executives can be seen wandering South Coast Plaza fresh from the gym in a Juicy Couture sweatsuit. Though casual by day, the tip-off to her social status is neatly coifed hair and a sizeable rock on her finger. The other well-heeled group is comprised of Armani-clad executives, attorneys or entrepreneurs. When the sun sets, both sets go all out, donning Jimmy Choo stilettos and gowns by Escada for a myriad of social functions.

15

ROCHESTER, MINN. Average spending on women’s apparel: $977 2002 Household Income: $79,083; Number of homes: 48,822

Wives of doctors who work at the Mayo Clinic shop at the local Marshall Field’s, which carries Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Yves St. Laurent and Donna Karan. There’s the mammoth Mall of America, which also attracts tons of tourists. But the biggest spenders in Rochester may be the families of Mayo Clinic patients from the Middle East, Europe and South America, who shop ’til they drop while their loved ones undergo treatment.

SOURCE: MapInfo in Troy, N.Y., provides location-based solutions and market research to help organizations better understand their customers.