When it comes to buying clothes for hanging out around the house or weekend jaunts to the park, most Americans seem content to spend on the low side.

In the WWD shopping survey, discounters led the pack, with 56 percent of respondents choosing the Wal-Mart-led (37 percent) group for their casualwear. Consumers were asked to pick up to five stores for this category, and department stores came in second, with a 54 percent share. J.C. Penney and Kohl’s shared top honors here, with 23 percent each.

Specialty stores garnered 46 percent, with Old Navy dominant at 22 percent. Catalogues caught 7 percent, while warehouse clubs captured 5 percent.

When asked to choose just one store where they shopped most often for casual clothes, 21 percent of respondents chose Wal-Mart and 10 percent picked Kohl’s.

Of particular note is that moderate department store Kohl’s scored high with upper-income consumers  for casualwear. In fact, among shoppers surveyed in the $100,000-plus household income category, Kohl’s was in the lead (with 13 percent) as the place they most often shopped for weekend clothes.

“It’s not surprising when you think about it,” said Liz Pierce, senior analyst at the investment firm of Sanders Morris Harris. “Kohl’s has  an edited assortment of brands, it’s an efficient shopping experience and you can shop for the whole family and home.”

Pierce said it’s more about time than money. The Menomonee, Wis.-based retailer is especially appealing to time-crunched moms who are keen on one-stop shopping. “They are a hybrid, with certain aspects of a department store and those of a discounter,” Pierce said. “For the mom, it’s a lot easier to navigate than a Sears or [J.C.] Penney because it’s all one floor. The quality is good, the prices are good and it’s easy to get in and out.”

The aisles are large and easy to navigate, and this convenience is one of the components of the company’s success, according to a Kohl’s spokeswoman. “Kohl’s differentiates itself from traditional department stores by making convenience a cornerstone of its business model,” she said.

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

But most important, said Pierce, the selection is well-edited so the consumer has little work to do. Kohl’s, which operates more than 500 locations nationwide, each with an average of about 86,500 square feet, carries moderate brands such as Levi’s, Dockers, Columbia, Adidas, Gloria Vanderbilt, Jockey, Champion and Reebok.

But Richard Giss, a partner in the consumer business practice at Deloitte, doesn’t feel that the appeal of Kohl’s is the convenience it affords for today’s harried mom.

“If she’s a harried mom, you’d have a tough time beating out Wal-Mart because you can find everything at a SuperCenter,” he said.

Giss, however, agreed that the well-edited labels are the key to seducing this income range.

“For the $100,000-plus consumer, I think there is a greater proportion of label-conscious consumers who likely think of Kohl’s over places like Target and Wal-Mart because of the fashion,” Giss said. “Those other stores are viewed more as [places to shop for] staples, though I think both Wal-Mart and Target are trying to compete in the fashion arena as well. I wouldn’t sell them short.”

What is the one store where you shop most often for casual/weekend wear?

CASUAL/WEEKEND WEAR
Where do you regularly shop for casual/weekend wear for yourself?
(Pick up to 5 stores)
Discounters
56%
Wal-Mart
37%
Target
30%
Kmart
11%
 
Department Stores
54%
J.C. Penney
23%
Kohl’s
23%
Sears
10%
Macy’s
10%
Dillard’s
7%
Nordstrom
3%
   
Specialty Apparel Stores
46%
Old Navy
22%
Gap
14%
Lane Bryant
6%
American Eagle
6%
Express
4%
Aeropostale
4%
Abercrombie & Fitch
4%
   
Warehouse Clubs
5%
Sam’s
2%
Price/Costco
2%
   
Catalogues
7%
Lands’ End
4%
Coldwater Creek
3%
L.L. Bean
2%
   
TV
1%
QVC
1%
Other Stores
24%
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