When it comes to purchasing accessories these days, many shoppers have expanded upon their fashion know-how and are able to recognize, for example, a Balenciaga Lariat bag, a pair of Gucci shields or a hot bangle by Erickson Beamon. Where they are shopping, however, remains the same.

Despite a burgeoning array of accessories specialty stores meant to appeal to a boutique mentality, consumers continue to name traditional shopping outlets like mass market chains and department stores as their primary destinations for scooping up that great new handbag, necklace, pair of sunglasses or other item.

When asked to pick up to five  stores they frequently shop for accessories, 52 percent of those surveyed included discounters; 49 percent listed department stores; 25 percent said apparel specialty stores, and 14 percent picked accessories specialty stores.

When asked to pick the one store they most often shop for accessories, 33 percent picked discounters; 27 percent went with department stores; 9 percent chose apparel specialty stores, and 7 percent said accessories specialty stores. The remainder was split among other categories.

Industry experts say the reason is straightforward: It’s all in the selection. But they add that specialty stores are doing their part to remain competitive.

“The department store carries so many brands,” explained Andrew Jassin, managing director of retail consultancy Jassin O’Rourke. “The environment of being in a department store with all the products around you makes it easier for people to put themselves together. Shopping is theater.”

Jassin said frequent promotional vehicles like sales further enhance the presentation for a consumer. “There is that perception of value,” he explained.

But he pointed out that specialty stores also are beginning to perfect a formula. Places like Banana Republic and Zara are becoming one-stop shops for clothes and the accessories with which to dress them up. “Retailers are looking at more opportunities,” he said.

R.J. Graziano, a New York-based jewelry designer who wholesales to department stores and accessories specialty retailers, concurred. He said more business goes to department stores, where he noted the selection of brands is a significant factor in drawing traffic.

He added, though, that accessories specialty stores are working to enhance the range for the accessories shopper. “Jewelry is doing well [in accessories specialty stores],” he said. “In my area, those stores that have developed a name for jewelry and keep changing the trends and upping the quality and the dates when things are available are doing very well.”

This story first appeared in the June 20, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Accessories powerhouse Coach does a brisk business at department stores and its own shops. Andrea Shaw Resnick, vice president of investor relations, said the department store shopper may appreciate the anonymity and tailored selection available there. “But if she wants to see the whole world of Coach in an appropriate showcase, she can visit a Coach specialty store. That’s why they can coexist.”

What is the one store where you shop most often for accessories?

ACCESSORIES
Where do you regularly shop for accessories for yourself?

(Pick up to 5 stores)
Discounters 52%
Wal-Mart
36%
Target
28%
Kmart
8%
   
Department Stores 49%
J.C. Penney
18%
Kohl’s
17%
Macy’s
10%
Sears
7%
Dillard’s
7%
Nordstrom
6%
   
Apparel Specialty Stores 25%
Old Navy
6%
Gap
4%
New York & Co.
2%
   
Accessories Specialty Stores 14%
Claire’s
9%
Icing
2%
Fossil
1%
Piercing Pagoda
1%
Coach
1%
   
Catalogue 3%
   
TV 2%
   
Warehouse 1%
load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus