Are grown-ups shopping for themselves?

[Editor’s Note: Ian Ritter is taking a much-deserved vacation over the next week, and retail reporter Debra Hazel is filling in for him on Counter Culture. Please be nice.]

Among the plethora of quarterly reports and announcements yesterday came some interesting positive news on the apparel front. Jos. A. Bank said it would accelerate its store expansion next year, opening 30 to 40 stores, more than twice the 10 to 15 opening this year. Eventually, it plans to open at least another 130 more units.

Women’s apparel also boasted some good news – Chico’s, which has been struggling for what seems like forever, posted positive comps for both its divisions this quarter. The Chico’s/Soma comps rose 0.4% (okay, that’s close, but still a positive), and White House/Black Market comp sales rose 3.7%.

The trend isn’t universal – Casual Male’s comps declined 13.9% this quarter, though its profit nearly doubled due to careful cost controls. Stage Stores’ comps dropped 10.7%, attributed largely to reduced merchandise clearance.

Consumer confidence has risen, the Conference Board says, and it seems that affluent adults, the target market for both Jos. A. Bank and Chico’s, may be tiring of shopping their closets. Are these two vertically integrated chains an exception? Or is the apparel shopper starting to re-enter the market, albeit cautiously?

3 Responses to “Are grown-ups shopping for themselves?”

  1. 1 Derrich August 27, 2009 at 8:37 am

    Each time I go into a Jos A. Bank, they’ve got a Buy 1, Get 2 Free sale…or the 50% off ‘a bunch of stuff’ sale. I guess COGS and frieght costs decreased so margins weren’t squeezed too horribly. I guess I better refresh my suits before they decide to curb those deep discounts.

  2. 2 Gman August 27, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Although encouraging to hear Chico’s “comps” are up, they have been on a downward slide for so long that the basis of comparison is relative. Similar to Wet Seal a couple of years ago…

  3. 3 james August 27, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Note: Jos. A. Banks doesn’t sell beat to death ill fitting cotton crap clothes. Maybe, just maybe, shoppers, who never shopped there before, are attracted to their store wide sales and two for one deals, etc. They have been looking in the windows of these stores for a long time, now they are going in. Presumably they have learned something about quality and value. Maybe, just maybe, consumers are replacing the discount crap they bought a few months ago, that is now falling apart and worthless, with something they hope will give them better service. Do ya think?
    Retailers who rely on their customers stupidity not only insult their customers but ultimately only confirm their own.
    You can buy nice a nice pair of decent fitting standard cotton chinos at Nordstrom for the same price you will pay for a beat to death wrinkled pair of baggy ugly fashion victim pants at Old Navy. ( I would say “Way Too Old Navy”).

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