Victoria’s Secret returned to the top spot among apparel retailers, displacing Kohl’s, while Nike maintained the number-one distinction among apparel and footwear brands in YouGov’s BrandIndex for 2014.

Since 2007, YouGov has asked consumers whether — through advertising, social media, word-of-mouth and other means — they’ve heard anything good or bad about brands in a wide range of categories. A score of 100 would indicate universally positive responses, minus 100 universally negative ones and zero would signify a neutral result.

Nike not only nabbed top honors for apparel and footwear brands, but also scored the biggest improvement in the category, moving up to a score of 18.7 from 16.5 and outpacing Skechers, which registered the second-best improvement as well as the second best score. Levi’s, number one two years ago, slipped to 10.8 from 12 but still finished fourth in the polling. Under Armour had the third best gain, up to 9 from 8.2, but just missed out for the fifth slot, which went to Dr. Scholl’s at 9.3.

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Among apparel retailers, Victoria’s Secret moved up to an 18 rating from 17.4 a year ago to end its one-year hiatus at the top of the sector, with Old Navy moving to second from third as its score improved to 17 from 16.8. Kohl’s, last year’s leader, dropped two spots as its rating fell to 16.8 from 19.7. Macy’s remained at number four with a 12.2 mark, down from 12.4, while Men’s Wearhouse entered the ranking at number five with a 10.6 score. Last year, number five was occupied by Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc., which was acquired by Men’s Wearhouse in June.

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. scored the biggest improvement among apparel stores, but it wasn’t sufficient to lift it into positive territory: The 3-point pick-up took it to minus 4.3 from minus 7.3. easily repeated as the top discount retailer, even as its score dipped to 29.7 from 30.6 a year ago. Costco was second as it dropped to 17.4 from 19.

However, security breaches and Canadian miscues appear to have weighed on Target’s perceptions among consumers. Its score fell to 9.4 from 20.7 and its rank to fourth from second.

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