In the lead up to the Great Canadian Retail Expansion, we thought this was an opportune time to look back on how some major apparel and sporting goods commodity sales were distributed by retail category. With the closure of Zellers and several Sears stores and the arrival of Target, Nordstrom, and the Walmart expansion, the declining fortunes of general merchandise stores are in for a shake up. In addition, the growth of the outlet mall industry will certainly change where Canadians go to buy these items. One thing is certain; we are on the precipice of a battle for market share in this new age of retail.

Women’s Clothing and Accessories

In the last few years for women’s clothing and accessories, there has been a marked shift away from General Merchandise stores. Market share has been picked up by modest increases in places such as sporting goods stores and other retailers such as food and beverage and health care and pharmacy. Interestingly, the market share of specialty clothing stores has remained relatively constant.

Men’s Clothing and Accessories

Sales of men’s clothing and accessories are spread out slightly differently than women’s clothing and accessories. The majority of sales are still at specialty clothing stores but general merchandise still takes in a higher proportion than women’s clothing and accessories. However, general merchandise stores’ market share has lost 6.5 points in the past seven years. Specialty clothing stores and a burst of market share grabbed by sporting goods stores have recently shifted the market place for casual clothes with a sporting motif.

Children’s and Infant’s Clothing and Accessories

Unlike women’s and men’s clothing and accessories, the majority of children’s and infant’s clothing and accessories is purchased at general merchandise stores. The market share for general merchandise stores has remained relatively constant. Despite what seems a growing trend of specialty baby stores along main streets, specialty clothing stores have been losing market share in children’s and infant’s clothing and accessories rapidly from 2004 to 2011. This has gone primarily to other channels including food and beverage stores and home furnishings.

Footwear

Declining market share for footwear at general merchandise stores has been picked up by specialty stores. The sale of footwear at sporting goods stores increased from 12% to 17% but has since settled back to a 13% market share.

Sporting Goods

The market share of sporting goods at sporting goods stores has been increasing from 2004 to 2011. New specialized retailers such as Sail and the continued growth of MEC and Sporting Life, along with small regional brands and independents (e.g., Bushtakah in Ottawa) appeal to consumers. General merchandise stores have trouble servicing the specialist and technical needs of customers.

Summary
What can we expect going forward? Resurgence in the general merchandise category especially in children’s and infant’s clothing and accessories that will give some of the food and beverage stores a run for their money. Will the Target and new Walmart additions lure market share back to general merchandisers and away from specialty stores or will it be at the expense of other underperforming general merchandise stores? Will the continued expansion of sporting goods stores and their movement into fashion continue to gain market share? Will the addition of new outlet malls that didn’t previously exist counter the general merchandise store restructuring and hold onto the apparel industry market share in specialty stores?

The retail world is, as always, very interesting.

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