Shoppers Reveal Their Apparel Shopping Experiences In Stores

Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
Jamie goodman
The survey found 59% of Americans buy their clothes most often from big box stores and entry level department stores.

Big box stores Walmart, Costco, Target, Sam’s Club, and Meijer may seem like unlikely destinations for shopping the latest apparel trends, yet America is turning to these retail giants for their daily apparel needs.

CB4’s “State of the Industry 2019: Apparel Store Customer Experience Survey” uncovers the in-store experiences of 1,500 shoppers at 90 top apparel retailers. The survey explores why shoppers select one store over another, whether they can find the products they want in stores, and how they rate their overall experiences in various apparel chains and in apparel verticals overall.

“Traditional apparel is in flux, as long-standing verticals like department stores are upended by big box stores and fast fashion brands” said Matthew McAlister, director of Marketing at CB4. “Apparel retailers can use this survey to understand what’s most important to their shoppers and how well their stores are providing what shoppers want.”

The survey results grouped the retailers based on their market positioning and assortment.
Admittedly, this is an imperfect way of categorizing a wide range of apparel sellers who satisfy various customer bases and needs,  explains CB4, but was necessary for create a
logical classification.

The survey reveals where customers turned to most often to purchase apparel and found the big box stores mentioned earlier were their first choice. Entry-level department stores ranked No. 2 on the list, which include Kohl’s, Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, JC Penney, Ross, and Burlington. In fact, it found 59% of Americans buy their clothes most often from big box stores and entry level department stores.

No. 3 on the list includes traditional department stores such as Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Lord & Taylor. The report explains, “with a shrinking middle class and increasingly less discretionary income to spend, fewer than 10% of shoppers most frequently patronized mid-tier department stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom, or fast fashion destinations like Zara and H&M.

Where customers turned to most often to purchase apparel:

  1.  Big Box Stores
  2. Entry-Level Department Stores
  3.  Mid-Tier Department Stores
  4. Fast Fashion Stores
  5. Contemporary Stores

The stores whose customers report the best overall in-store experiences are those of bridge apparel stores, midmarket traditional apparel brands such as LOFT and NY & Co. The stores whose customers report the worst overall experiences? Shoppers of fast fashion destinations such as Zara, and H&M. The most shoppable stores were found to be specialty sizing stores such as Lane Bryant and Catherine's.

Lost Sales

The survey also found that the stores losing out on the most sales due to in-store purchasing obstacles are luxury department stores (namely Neiman Marcus, Saks, etc.).  Customers report the most in-store obstacles to purchasing footwear, with pants (No. 2), tees/polos (No. 3); jeans (No. 4); and shorts (No. 5) following behind.

Eighty-two percent of shoppers report having left an apparel store without purchasing what they came for. When this happens, 23.4% head to a competitor, while only 15% order the item online for delivery with the same retailer.  Out of stocks (30%) were found to be the top reason shoppers left without purchasing what they came for, but they also left when the store didn't have the size or color (23%) they wanted.

Click here for the full survey and learn how your vertical is performing against others. Those who wish for a deep dive on their brand can request a customized report to learn exactly what customers reported about shopping at their stores.

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