More pain is on the way. One-third of U.S. women recently surveyed by America's Research Group said they plan no clothing purchases--none--in 2009. Normally, it's just 4%. That means the market is still far too saturated with stores.
Expect closings and bankruptcies to rattle the likes of Lane Bryant, Gap, and Starbucks. It's the inevitable counterpunch to the days of retailers fighting hand over fist for market share during an era of loose credit and minuscule interest rates.
I don't know why they seem to think the market is too saturated with stores for fat women, I sure haven't seen an over-abundance of them, has anyone else? If Lane Bryant isn't getting a big enough market share from fat women, could it be that they aren't selling the clothes fat women want to wear? Could it possibly be that Lane Bryant made a big mistake by not using fat models/mannequins to showcase their clothing? Or maybe it was the decision to change details on classic items that women buy all the time (like removing pockets from their knit pants), or using cheap-ass fabric, stinky fabric, and cutting back on the variety they offer.
Retailers at risk in 2009, he thinks, include outerwear specialist Eddie Bauer and teen-apparel-seller Pacific Sunwear, along with Zales, the big jewelry chain. All three shuttered at least 8% of their U.S. stores last year, with many more closings expected. The same is largely true of Charming Shoppes, the owner of Lane Bryant, which closed 150 stores last year. With a mountain of debt and losses totaling over $260 million over the most recent 12-month reporting period, the company will close another 100 locations this year.
Ok, now is it just going to be Lane Bryant stores that close, or will it also be Catherine's and Fashion Bug locations also? I've shopped all 3 stores, when I lived within driving distance (and 120 miles is not driving distance, not for me, not just to shop for clothes).
Fat women have a hard enough time finding clothing to fit (especially that is affordable), and with these stores closing, it's going to be even more difficult. Ann Taylor is another one on the list, they're doing better than LB, but have let people go, and aren't planning on opening the 85 stores they had in the works before the economy tanked.
Sears-KMart may not make it through the year either. Now, KMart, I could give a rat's ass if they survive (other than I hate to see their employees without jobs). I haven't shopped there in years, mainly because their women's clothing sizes are so limited if you wear anything over a size 16 (and their service sucks, or it did the last time I shopped there). Sears, well, I don't shop there either, unless it's for tools (Craftsman has a kick-ass guarantee), but most places that sell tools nowadays have a similar guarantee.
I think things are going to get a hell of a lot worse before they start to get better, so I may just start hitting the fabric sales and stocking up on fabric to make clothes to replace the ones that wear out. This kind of situation makes me damned glad I know how to sew and own a sewing machine.