Family Clothing Stores

SIC 5651

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This industry consists of establishments primarily engaged in the retail sale of clothing; furnishings; and accessories for men, women, and children. Generally referred to as retail family clothing stores, this industry includes jeans stores and unisex clothing stores, but excludes stores targeted at one sex or age group.

Industry Snapshot

Of 92,400 total clothing stores (men's, women's, children's and infants', and family clothing) in the United States in the mid-2000s, 24,100 were family clothing stores employing about 589,000 workers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The American Apparel and Footwear Association reported that in 2005 sales from retail family clothing stores totaled $77.2 billion, a number unchanged from the year before, but an enormous increase from 2001 level of $60.1 billion, attributable to increased consumer spending as the economy stabilized and grew. Prices were also continuing to fall, and in 2005 the apparel industry was affected by the lifting of quotas in all member countries of the World Trade Organization. Countries no longer had limits on what could be exported for U.S. markets. For the consumer, that translated to expected price drops of up to 20 percent.

The clothing store industry was highly competitive, and marketing research, advertising, and sales promotions were central to these companies' operations. Other factors affecting sales in this industry included national economic trends, regional population growth, seasonal factors such as weather and holidays, and dramatic changes in fashions and clothing trends.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 28,429 family clothing stores in 2008 employing 662,139 workers who earned annual wages of $9.3 billion. California led the nation with 3,581 family clothing stores employing 88,704 workers, followed by Texas with 2,464 family clothing stores. Other significant states were New York with 1,734 family clothing stores and Florida with 2,364 family clothing stores. According to the National Retail Federation, sales from retail family clothing stores were $82.3 billion in 2008, falling to $80 billion in 2009, a decline of 2.3 percent.

Organization and Structure

According to the National Retail Federation, the vast majority of family clothing outlets were chain stores, roughly 20 percent of which were operated as franchises. Family clothing stores were either chain stores (including department stores) or independently owned.

The large companies that owned clothing outlets across the nation generally operated distribution centers where clothes were received from the manufacturers and shipped to the outlets. Unlike warehouses, these distribution centers did not store items for a long period of time. Generally goods stayed at a distribution center for only about 48 hours before being shipped to the retail stores that had placed the orders. The link between manufacturer and retailer was maintained by manufacturers' sales representatives and the retailers' merchandise buyers.

Small clothing retailers generally did not own distribution centers, although they still received items that were held at these centers. These smaller retailers tended to purchase inventory from distributors who represented several manufacturers. These retailers also ordered items solicited through distributor catalogs.

The organization of the retail family clothing store industry has changed since the beginning of the 1990s. The 1991 recession caused many firms to buy other, usually smaller, retailers. With these mergers, the decentralized purchasing practices of smaller retail chains were centralized and handled strictly by the main office, thereby cutting down on the number of buyers employed by any one company.

The internal structure of companies in this industry varied. Some companies made buying trips to manufacturers and wholesalers, while other companies were called on by manufacturers' representatives. These companies also differed in the way that the various internal departments related to one another. In some companies, buyers and merchandise managers worked closely with the advertising department in deciding the type of promotional media to use and the layout of item displays. Other companies hired autonomous advertising agencies for the promotional aspects of the business. Some retail clothing stores sold clothes under their own brand name. In these cases, the retailer typically designed the clothes and had them produced by a clothing manufacturer, while the retailer maintained a staff of employees to monitor the work of the manufacturers.

The advent of discount retailers has affected the structure of family clothing stores. These retailers have gained a large market share by offering low-cost, high-quality merchandise and maintaining low overhead costs.

Background and Development

Retail family clothing stores originated in America during colonial times. In these early days, stores were extensions of tailor shops. There were few stores relative to the size of the growing population, however, because owning a variety of clothes was considered a luxury. During the 1800s, with the expansion westward, clothing retailers were mostly manufacturers who sold their merchandise through catalogs. In the late 1800s, with innovations in mass manufacturing and the growth of cities, most retail clothing stores began operating exclusive of tailor shops.

During the twentieth century, retail family clothing stores moved from individually run small stores to regional chains and then, in the 1990s, to nationwide chains of large stores. This consolidation trend resulted from stores moving from smaller spaces in the cities during the 1970s and 1980s into suburban shopping malls, where larger store space and new buildings were available. Such vast quantities of space also facilitated the growth of off-price retail stores, which offered discounted merchandise in large superstores, such as Wal-Mart, or in regional outlets, such as Hit or Miss.

Typically, off-price clothing outlets were in more favorable remote suburbs or newly developed areas where real estate was inexpensive, or they were in suburban shopping strips with other off-price retailers. Lower costs led to higher profits for such establishments. These outlets also kept prices down by purchasing large volumes at low prices from manufacturers. Usually manufacturers were not able to make a profit on the items, often due to the rapid change in fashion trends, and were only seeking to cut their losses.

Other types of stores to emerge from the growth of suburban shopping were price clubs, warehouse stores, and hypermarkets. Price clubs and warehouse stores, where customers could purchase clothes at significantly reduced prices, also resulted in part from the recession at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s. Hypermarkets also featured reduced prices, but their appeal was in the variety of stores and services offered under one roof. Often referred to as "malls without walls," these stores first appeared in France. All of these larger stores carried an average of 40,000 items at any given time, compared with 25,000 items at typical retail family clothing outlets.

Despite the growth in store size, automation did little to change the basic operations in stores. Computerized cash registers allowed for more efficient management of money and inventory, but these systems were not fully employed throughout the industry. In some cases, the retailer did not have the capital to pay for point-of-sale scanners that record the exact item sold, including color and size, and related technologies, in addition to the costs of retraining employees.

The retail family clothing store industry made significant marketing changes and advances over the years. The marketing ability of individual establishments was a key factor within this highly competitive industry. The primary factors in the marketing mix were marketing research and promotion.

Marketing research in the retail family clothing industry traditionally came from knowledge of what items sell the most or have the fastest turnover. Sales staff and inventory workers monitored merchandise levels, and successful retailers later supplemented their employees' knowledge with electronic inventory controls, such as point-of-sale scanners. For example, Russell Mitchell of Business Week attributed a large part of The Gap's success as the fastest-growing company in this industry during the early 1990s to "its high-tech distribution network that keeps 1,200 Gap stores constantly stocked with fresh merchandise." The basic economics of supply and demand are quite evident in this industry.

The family clothing store industry also conducted its marketing research by surveying customers and various representative groups in the population. At the same time, this industry frequently surveyed the effectiveness of its television and radio commercials and magazine advertisements, its three main forms of advertising.

Low-budget marketing strategies have also worked well in this industry. For example, Wal-Mart stores spent about one-third as much on advertising as their competitors. They did not run many promotional sales, but they did keep prices low at all times. In 1996 and 1997 Wal-Mart began a "Falling Prices" program, backed by both television and print media. The aim of the campaign was that even though Wal-Mart had low prices, it would continue to drop them even lower. Wal-Mart also utilized employees and their family members in place of professional models in their advertisements to help lower costs and improve company image.

Another strategy was to use a sale on one product line to draw customers into a store. One company to use this approach successfully was Goody's Family Clothing Stores. Forbes described the company's strategy: "Jeans are great bait. In the past five years Goody's sales and earnings have tripled, and the number of stores it leases and operates in small towns throughout the Southeast has almost doubled. The jeans shelves are in the back of Goody's stores, meaning customers must walk as much as 35 yards past racks of merchandise on which Goody's makes its real money."

Other marketing factors that characterized retail family clothing businesses were service and location. Consumers often formed their impressions of a store by the courtesy and efficiency of its sales staff. The Nordstrom clothing stores built their reputation on their courteous sales staff, which became part of their marketing strategy. Nordstrom knew that it was the only U.S. department store chain that had employees who would change flat tires and carry bags to customers' cars. Location was important in terms of store visibility and the relative closeness of competitors. A large shopping mall generally has at least two anchor stores for this reason. Anchor stores are considered larger in both product diversity and size. Some key anchor stores are Macys, J.C. Penney, Lord and Taylor, Nordstrom, and Hecht's.

Upon entering the 1990s, family clothing retailers were affected by a weak economy and loss of their market share to other types of retailers, namely specialty stores and large department stores. The industry responded by increasing its marketing efforts, stocking more off-price merchandise, and investing in computer systems to predict market trends and reduce operating costs. Increasing marketing efforts included a trend toward scrambled merchandising--selling items normally not carried by a given retailer. This technique allowed retailers to test new merchandise and, at the same time, bring new customers into their stores to buy the standard line of apparel.

The success of off-price retailing during the recessions of the 1970s and 1980s encouraged many family clothing retailers to enter this end of the market as well. Off-price retailing also was helped by the collapse of real estate prices in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Cheaper real estate allowed this sector of the industry to acquire the large buildings it needed to move enough volume to sustain a strong profit margin on the reduced-price items.

The weak real estate market also helped start a new trend of stores moving back into the cities, where downtown areas sought retail operations to fill locations emptied during the late 1980s. Companies with small clothing stores continued to open new stores in downtown areas. In 1992 Russell Mitchell in Business Week described The Gap as "taking advantage of recessionary blues by locking up sweet lease deals, moving into downtown and urban neighborhoods, and opening on the main streets of mid-size cities."

In 1993 retail apparel and accessory stores recorded sales of $106 billion. Although this was an increase of 7 percent (after inflation) over the previous year, it was not as great an increase as the industry witnessed during the 1970s and 1980s. This sector continued to see growth into the mid-1990s.

In 1997 the clothing industry saw approximately $170 billion in retail sales. Women's apparel brought in $89.4 billion, men's apparel accounted for $50.8 billion, and children's wear captured $29 billion. Family clothing stores alone accounted for $45.1 billion in sales. According to the American Apparel Manufacturers Association, the breakdown on total share of retail sales was specialty stores, 22 percent; discounters, 19 percent; department stores, 19 percent; major chains, 17 percent; off-price stores, 7 percent; mail order, 6 percent; outlets, 4 percent; and other stores, 7 percent.

This industry remained quite competitive in the late 1990s. Successful advertising campaigns and Internet marketing were instrumental in attracting new and existing customers. For example, in the first quarter of 1999 The Gap spent $122.5 million in advertising for its stores, including Old Navy and Banana Republic, which represented an increase of 84 percent from the previous year.

Online shopping also became much more popular in the late 1990s. According to the National Retail Federation, Internet retail sales surpassed $17 billion in the year 2000 and reached some $40 billion in 2002. Clothing retailers have jumped aboard the superhighway and aggressively use the Internet to offer online shopping and to market their products. Many retailers now offer their catalogs online as well and send e-mails to customers with updates, promotions, and fashion information.

Off-price retailing continued to play a major role in this industry in the late 1990s. With the success of Wal-Mart and the TJX Corporation, other family clothing retailers were forced to offer quality merchandise and lower costs. The Gap, for instance, had seen remarkable success with its Old Navy stores, which offered Gap-like merchandise at lower prices.

Successful introduction of private-label brands, such as Wal-Mart's Kathie Lee line and Target's Xhileration line, also chipped away at traditional family clothing stores' market share. With clothing offered at lower prices, apparel experienced a price deflation in the late 1990s. According to the American Statistics Index, "apparel consumers are demanding a greater selection of good quality merchandise at low price as well as added convenience in readily finding merchandise."

According to WSL's survey "How America Shops" as reported by Women's Wear Daily in 2002, 46 percent of consumers shopped for most of their clothes at department stores, down from 53 percent in 2001. Mass markets held 17 percent of the market, and specialty stores soared from 3 percent in 2001 to 16 percent in 2002. However, a similar survey conducted by the consultancy Retail Forward found that discounters garnered 36 percent of shoppers' purchases of casual wear and 20 percent of dress wear. Fourteen percent of consumers bought the majority of their casual wear and 21 percent of their dress wear at department stores. According to the Zandl Group marketing research firm, specialty stores have grown in popularity with the thirteen- to twenty-five-year-old segment, and department stores have declined in popularity with the same age group.

As the retail clothing industry waited out the slow economy and the freeze on spending in the midst of the war initiated by the United States on Iraq in 2003, industry analysts attempted to foresee the future of the industry. During the twentieth century traditional family clothing stores were outpaced by department stores, which were then themselves overcome by discounters. By 2004 specialty retailers, primarily those with high-end merchandise, were getting back in the saddle. The number of retail family clothing stores rose from 20,600 in 2000 to 24,100 in 2004, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

With the day of the discounters firmly established and the dawn of new high-end specialty retailers, the stores in the middle seemed most likely to suffer in the late 2000s. Mass merchants, such as Wal-Mart, relied on moving massive volumes of inventory to keep the profit margin thin yet still profitable. Department stores have a larger profit margin but less merchandise, and specialty shops rely on an even higher profit margin and a still smaller selection. How these three distinct formats for family clothing will balance the three basic ingredients to retail success of convenience, value, and price in the remainder of the decade remains to be seen.

According to the American Apparel and Footwear Association, in 2005 sales from retail family clothing stores totaled $77.2 billion, while prices in the mid-2000s continued to fall with the lifting of World Trade Organization quotas for member countries. Countries no longer had limits on what could be exported for U.S. markets. Wal-Mart dropped prices because of company rules limiting profit margins, and other discount retailers did the same to compete. Likely price drops of 8 to 20 percent were projected.

The National Retail Federation reported in 2005 that one-fourth of retailers planned to place private labels on half the shelf space in stores. One-third planned to relocate or redesign stores. The majority planned to update technology, and more than 20 percent intended to outsource certain operational areas.

Current Conditions

In the late 2000s, family clothing stores were enduring one of the worst economic downturns in U.S. history. One victim, Tennessee-based Goody's Family Clothing who had been in business for over 50 years was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June of 2008 and emerged by October only to be forced to liquidate by "skittish lenders." The failing company operated 287 discount stores in 20 states throughout the Southeast and Midwest. "The defeat of Goody's signals a tough road ahead for regional retailers, who lack the scale and credit profile of big rivals like Wal-Mart, Macy's and J.C. Penney," James Covert wrote in the New York Post in January of 2009. Goody' employed 9,800 workers.

Despite sluggish retail sales, TJX Companies performed better than their chief competitors, in particular high-end retailers. "The two-year-plus recession was the most severe economic crisis that most "core retail shoppers have gone through in their lifetimes," Mary Brett Whitfield, senior vice president of research firm, Kantar Retail noted in STORES magazine in July 2010, adding that "The result is that the recession has "created value consumers" whose frugal habits are likely to last for some time, much the way the Great Depression affected an entire generation of shoppers." Thus, TJX was reaping the benefits when the pricier retailers canceled orders leaving vendors with the mentality to dump merchandise at any price.

Family store retailers have increased their bottom lines anywhere from eight to 41 percent since 2005 through exclusive offerings, according to research firm NPD. While Macy's and Nordstrom's have fattened their bottom lines by adding exclusive items on their racks, J.C. Penny's planned to follow with the launch of well known designer Liz Claiborne in the fall of 2010.

Meanwhile, the Gap announced they were going to open some additional outlet locations as well as expand on its overseas presence. The company admitted they were a "defensive retailer" from 2003 and 2007, however, now was the time to focus on market share. In all, a total of 65 new stores with their sites set on Italy and China in the fall of 2010, while Sears Holdings was weathering the downturn through its Sears stores, while its sister company Kmart was busy shedding its underperforming stores.

Industry Leaders

Three of the industry leaders in gross annual sales in the mid-2000s were Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., with nearly $345 billion in total sales for all departments in 2007; Gap, Inc., with $15.9 billion in sales in 2006; and The TJX Companies, Inc. (owners of Marshalls and TJ Maxx stores), with $17.4 billion in sales in 2007.

Despite the economic turmoil in the late 2000s, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. grew its revenues to nearly $379 billion in 2008 and $408.2 billion in 2010 with 2.1 billion employees. Gap, Inc. was not as fortunate with revenues falling from $15.7 billion in 2008 to $14.1 billion in 2010 with 135,000 employees. The TJX Companies, Inc. grew its revenues from $18.6 billion in 2008 to $20.2 billion in 2010 with 154,000 employees.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. stood as the world's largest retailer in 2007. Wal-Mart was founded by two brothers, Sam and J. L. (Bud) Walton, who entered the clothing industry as owners of Ben Franklin franchises in Arkansas. In 1962 the Waltons opened their first store, Wal-Mart Discount City in Rogers, Arkansas, to reduce prices more than the Ben Franklin franchises would allow at the time. The brothers soon opened stores in other small towns, and by 1970 they had eighteen Wal-Mart Stores in addition to fifteen Ben Franklin franchises.

During the 1970s Wal-Mart built its own warehouses to cut costs and exercise greater influence over the channels of distribution. Under this system, the company would buy in high volumes and store the merchandise at the warehouses, gradually building a network of stores within 200 miles of each warehouse. This system was used throughout the 1990s.

By the end of the 1970s, Wal-Mart owned and operated in-store pharmacies, auto service centers, and jewelry and shoe divisions. In 1980 Wal-Mart had stores in eleven states and took in a total of $1.25 billion annually. The 1980s marked the company's greatest period of growth and the opening of its discount warehouses, Sam's Clubs, and its Hypermarket USA, a combination discount department store and grocery store with restaurants, banks, video rentals, and other services. With prices reduced by up to 40 percent, the Hypermarket USA store grew rapidly in popularity, and by 1992 Wal-Mart had opened four of these stores. In 1992 Wal-Mart employed more than 28,800 workers and owned several other subsidiaries, such as Kuhn's Big K Stores Corp.; North Arkansas Wholesale Co., Inc.; and Wal-Mart Properties.

Wal-Mart has been criticized over the years for forcing small retailers out of business with its location strategies and buying practices. Wal-Mart typically dealt directly with manufacturers, bypassing their sales representatives and distribution representatives, which made it more difficult for independent retail buyers to conduct business and increased Wal-Mart's profit margin. By 2003 the company had a store volume larger than Sears, Kmart, Dayton Hudson, and J.C. Penney combined. Wal-Mart operated 4,600 stores, including supercenters and Sam's Clubs, and employed nearly 1.4 million workers.

By 2005 Target, the number-two discounter, was coming into its own, and its apparel division was outpacing that of Wal-Mart. Target had earlier focused on strengthening its market presence and had a reputation for inexpensive quality. Target's 2006 sales for all divisions was $59.49 billion. By 2010 Target operated about 1,750 Target and SuperTarget stores in 49 states. The company grew its revenues to $63.3 billion in 2008 and $65.3 billion in 2010 with 351,000 employees.

Another notable industry leader was Gap, Inc., owner of The Gap stores, which has been one of the top retailers in America since its beginnings. The company was started by Donald and Doris Fisher in 1969. After Donald could not find Levi's jeans in his size in a department store, he realized that market demand for jeans strongly outweighed the supply. The Gap started with a small shop near San Francisco State University, which carried only records and Levi's jeans, a combination that appealed to young people. The success of The Gap concept was almost immediate, and Fisher added outlets throughout the San Francisco area.

The company grew during the 1970s with the acceptance of jeans as casual wear by people of all ages; however, baby boomers still made up the majority of Gap customers. In 1971 The Gap's sales stood at $2.5 million annually, and by 1976 sales were up to $97 million annually with 186 stores in 21 states. The company's success was also helped by the popularity of Levi's, which remained the only brand Gap carried and extensively advertised.

With the recession at the end of the 1970s and the baby boomers outgrowing blue jeans fashion, Gap began experiencing financial difficulties. The company reacted by changing its line of clothes to a larger variety of casual items and by selling more of its own labels. In the early 1980s The Gap was revamped after it hired Mickey Drexler to be its new president. Under Drexler, The Gap carried only Gap-labeled clothes and emphasized natural fibers and casual clothing styles that appealed to both genders and a wide age range.

Upon entering the 1990s Gap's earnings were $225 million annually, including the company's principal subsidiaries, GapKids and Banana Republic clothing stores. The Gap expanded the size of its stores to accommodate new lines of less casual, dressier clothes. At the same time, the clothing chain converted some of its most poorly performing stores into warehouse stores to compete in the discount clothing market. In 1996 Gap's sales totaled $5.28 billion, and a total of 1,854 stores were in operation.

By the late 1990s Gap was extremely successful. With $824.5 million in net income, which represented an increase of 54.4 percent from 1997, the company was becoming increasingly popular by its television ads and the openings of Old Navy stores. In 1999 The Gap had more than 1,500 stores, including GapKids and BabyGap, in the United States, 297 U.S. Banana Republic stores, and 442 Old Navy stores. Continuing to grow rapidly into the twenty-first century, in 2006 Gap's sales totaled $15.9 billion, and a total of 3,000 stores worldwide were in operation. In the late 2000s, The Gap, Inc. experienced declining revenues falling from $15.7 billion in 2008 to $14.1 billion in 2010 with 135,000 employees. A global company, The Gap grew its store count to 3,100 stores as of 2010.

TJX Companies, Inc., the industry's third-largest leader in sales, was considered the world's number-one off-price family clothing store. The company was incorporated in 1962 as Zayre Corp., which was a chain of department stores based in New England. In 1969 Zayre bought the Hit or Miss chain, which moved the corporation toward the upscale off-price clothing market. During the 1970s the Hit or Miss chain grew rapidly across the country. By 1977 Zayre decided to expand further into the off-price clothing market by opening its first T.J. Maxx store.

Both Hit or Miss and T.J. Maxx prospered during the late 1970s as shoppers looked for bargains during the recession. Zayre then expanded its off-price fashion operations into the mail-order market by forming Chadwick's of Boston. Chadwick's used catalogs to sell the same brands of women's clothing and accessories as found in Hit or Miss.

The 1980s saw growth for off-price fashion retailing, but not for Zayre's department stores. Competition from Wal-Mart, Kmart, and other large department store chains forced Zayre to make large investments in its clothing stores. By 1986 the company had 420 Hit or Miss stores throughout the United States. By 1987 the company restructured, with T.J. Maxx becoming the major subsidiary, and sold 400 of its Zayre stores to Ames Department Stores, Inc.

In the early 1990s the T.J. Maxx stores were the company's leading business, and Chadwick's of Boston was also performing well. However, Hit or Miss stores were feeling the strain of competition and a weak economy. In 1995 TJX sold the Hit or Miss and the Chadwick's divisions, and it purchased Marshalls, Inc. for $550 million within the same year. Marshalls had been T.J. Maxx's direct competition. In 1996 TJX Companies had 578 T.J. Maxx stores and 454 Marshalls stores throughout the United States. The company employed a total of 38,000 people. By 2005 TJX operated more than 770 T.J. Maxx stores and 690 Marshalls stores. In 2007 TJX reported $17.4 billion in sales and employed 105,000. The total number of T.J. Maxx stroes grew to 890, as did their Marshall stores to more than 800 stores by 2010. During 2010 the company reported $20.2 billion in revenues with 154,000 employees.

Another industry leader for retail family clothing stores was Nordstrom, Inc. Founded in 1901 by the Nordstroms, a family of Swedish immigrants, in Seattle, Washington, the company started out in the shoe business and did not sell clothing until 1960, when it purchased Best Apparel, a women's clothing store. In 1966 the company purchased Nicholas Ungar, a retail fashion outlet, and soon began selling men's clothes. By 1968, under the ownership of a third generation of the Nordstrom family, the company achieved $40 million in annual sales. Within a few years, expansion allowed sales to double to $80 million. The company grew at a steady pace for the remainder of the 1970s by diversifying with a large variety of clothing departments within each store.

By the start of the 1980s the company had expanded by opening stores in southern California, Alaska, Oregon, Utah, and Montana. Later in the 1980s the chain started opening stores on the East Coast. Despite diversification and growth over the years, however, shoes still accounted for 20 percent of Nordstrom's sales.

Also during this period the company developed a reputation for having exceptionally friendly sales people who would do things like change customers' flat tires in the parking lot, deliver merchandise to offices, and send tailors to people's homes. However, in 1989 a group of unionized employees charged that they were not being paid for providing such extra services. As a result, the government forced Nordstrom to change its compensation and record-keeping policies.

Upon entering the 1990s, the recession caused Nordstrom's sales to drop for the first time in the company's history. Despite this setback, the company continued to expand into new regional markets. In 1995 women's clothes and accessories accounted for 58 percent of Nordstrom's sales; men's clothes, 16 percent; and shoes, 20 percent.

By the end of the decade Nordstrom had operations in twenty-three states and remained known for its upscale apparel and excellent service. Net income in 1998 was $206.7 million, up 11 percent from 1997. The company operated more than 70 stores and 25 outlets and had more than 42,000 employees. In 2006 the company reported $8.56 billion in sales and employed 52,900. Nordstrom's store count grew to 110 by 2010, as did its outlets to 70. The company reported revenues of $8.6 billion in 2010, a decline from $8.8 billion posted in 2008. The company employed 48,000 people in 2010, a decline from 52,900 in 2006.


According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2004 the family clothing industry employed 589,000 people, an increase over 453,000 in 2000. The total payroll for family clothing store employees was $7.9 billion in 2004. Nearly 1.2 million people were employed by all U.S. clothing stores that year. The U.S. Census Bureau reported 662,139 people working within the family clothing industry in 2008.

Research and Technology

Developing technology to improve the channels of distribution remained an essential component of the future growth of the retail family clothing store industry at the start of the twenty-first century. Like other retail businesses, establishments in this industry continually increased their reliance on computers, which simplified many of the routine buying functions and improved the efficiency of in-store sales staff. Retail buyers and merchandisers came to rely upon point-of-sale computer terminals, rather than manual on-hand counts, for up-to-date inventory and sales information. Point-of-sale data came directly from an item's bar code as it was sold and provided information regarding price, model number, color, and size.

Internet sales were expected to increase throughout the 2000s with the explosive growth of e-commerce, and family clothing stores faced increased competition not only from large discount chains but also from Internet entrepreneurs. Many chains also had to add information technology (IT) and information services (IS) specialists to their workforce as a result of technology trends.

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