Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Watching Ann, Cathy, Victoria and Bebe

Every few weeks, around shopping spike periods, I spend a lazy afternoon at a mall trying to gauge interest in various stores. The few malls I frequent are located in fairly wealthy suburbs and cannot be considered representative of the entire country, but the experiment still gives a good indication of relative popularity among brands/chains.

Here is what I saw over the last 2 weeks :
  • Extremely low traffic : at Ann Taylor, Bebe, Abercrombie & Fitch, Victoria's Secret, Zumiez, Wet Seal, Guess.
    Zumiez was a huge surprise and A&F was also somewhat shocking. Guess and Ann Taylor stock levels are way too high given the traffic that I observed. Bebe was almost empty, inspite of the big discounts being offered.
  • Medium to heavy traffic : Gap, Foot Locker, Forever 21, Restoration Hardware, Claire's, Sharper Image.
    Forever 21 is not public, otherwise I would be considering it seriously. It would take a miracle for a good number of the people shopping there to look like 21 again - I kept thinking that a Forever 41 would do well too!
  • No discounts: Oakley was among the few stores without discounts. That is an indicator of strength, though I would have liked to see more people shopping there. Similarly, at Sharper Image, iRobot's wares seem to be among the few that were not being discounted. iRobot, which recently went public is worth buying in small numbers.

I own shares of Oakley, Restoration Hardware, Sharper Image, Wet Seal and Limited. I will be looking at Bebe seriously, since any price drop from here will make it a very attractive takeover target.


At 3:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about a long long line in front of H&M(Hennes & Mauritz) in the city? Since you mentioned Forever 21, Zara is the same kind.



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