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Walmart, Target, Kohl’s Look to Cut Amazon’s Apparel Lead

With Macy’s set to give an update tomorrow, after Walmart, Target and Kohl’s set the stage last week, players of all shapes and sizes are trying to find ways to shrink Amazon’s widening moat in the important retail apparel category.

Action is fast and furious as retail tries to right the ship in stormy seas.

Cross-referencing PYMNTS data with earnings reports and related news coming out of the major retailers in recent weeks, we see the Amazon and Walmart slugfest continue, with Amazon retaining its position as the predominant force in apparel.

In an earnings season marked by inflationary warnings, Walmart+ Weekend in June and Prime Day in July offered a glimpse at the relative strengths of these two closely watched combatants.

Our July study “Prime Day 2022: Inflation Hits, But Amazon Still Wins” surveyed nearly 2,200 Amazon and Walmart subscribers and found that Amazon’s lead in apparel is enduring and resilient year over year, with clothing and accessories sales virtually unchanged with 38% of Prime subscribers buying fashion items during Prime Day.

See the report: Prime Day 2022: Inflation Hits, But Amazon Still Wins

Meanwhile “Walmart+ Weekend: Prime Day Rival Or Trip To The Grocery Store,” a PYMNTS survey of close to 2,900 Walmart+ and Prime subscribers, found that 56% of Walmart+ subscribers bought clothing and related accessories in 2022 but given that Walmart+ membership is roughly one-quarter that of Prime, the eCommerce giant still rules the category.

See the report: Walmart+ Weekend: Prime Rival Or Trip To The Grocery Store?

Amazon’s lead in apparel remains hard to beat. The PYMNTS report “The Battle for Consumer Retail Spend: Amazon Versus Walmart Q1 2022: The Grocery Wild Card,” notes that Amazon’s share of clothing spend — 14% in Q1 2022 — was more than double that of Walmart’s 6.2%.

“Amazon’s range of clothing and accessories may not be more extensive than Walmart’s, but the variety of brands available allows Amazon to appeal to a broad demographic,” that report noted. “Amazon owns more than 50 in-house fashion labels and counts Zappos and ShopBop among its retail brands.”

As Walmart tries shoppable videos and influencer marketing, the report points to “Walmart’s recent partnership with online thrift giant ThredUp allows consumers to browse thousands of items online and get free shipping on orders above $35” as an example of its innovating.

Here Comes Everybody

Facing pressures of their own, others in the Amazon and Walmart competitive set are making moves in beauty, apparel and fashion-adjacent categories as virtually all retailers struggled with discounting overstocks that failed to move during the first half.

Reporting a 90% drop is quarterly profits year over year, Target Chief Growth Officer Christina Hennington told analysts on an earnings call that “Apparel also saw a low-single-digit decline in the second quarter, but saw meaningful growth in women’s fashion forward categories along with performance apparel on top of strong sales growth in the category over the past two years.”

Target is pinning hopes on a fall rollout of Marvel-licensed goods including apparel from “The Avengers” universe, she added, and betting on adjacencies to add luster, such as the 250 Ulta Beauty locations it plans to have in select locations by year’s end.

Meanwhile, Kohl’s is seeing its apparel business hammered, with CEO Michelle Gass telling analysts on its August 18 earnings call that sales of athleisure and outdoor apparel continued to be strong points for the company — but that the overall active segment slowed down, “due in part to supply chain related challenges in athletic footwear and the strong growth achieved last year.”

She said the junior’s category also underperformed. A bright spot for the embattled chain is menwear, where the company added brands including Tommy Hilfiger, Hurley and Calvin Young Young men’s tailored clothing and big-and-tall clothes also saw solid results.

See also: Stage Set for Retail Slugfest as Kohl’s Plans Aggressive Discounting

For all PYMNTS retail coverage, subscribe to the daily Retail Newsletter.



About: The findings in PYMNTS’ new study, “The Super App Shift: How Consumers Want To Save, Shop And Spend In The Connected Economy,” a collaboration with PayPal, analyzed the responses from 9,904 consumers in Australia, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. and showed strong demand for a single multifunctional super apps rather than using dozens of individuals ones.


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