Intimate apparel sales surge
Limited Brands Inc.’s Victoria’s Secret isn’t the only retailer generating sales as it becomes more acceptable for middle- and high-school girls to show off bras under clothing and buy intimates.
Teen chains are, too.
Hot Topic Inc. is testing an edgy lingerie line called Blackheart, and Urban Outfitters Inc., which has said intimates could eventually make up 10 percent of sales, has bolstered such offerings across its brands.
Even Justice, the store for 7- to 12-year-olds owned by Tween Brands Inc., is selling $21.90 tie-dye bras and $9 flowered panties online.
Retailers are taking care to present the garments as cute versus sexy, said Marcie Merriman, founder of retail and brand strategy consultancy PrimalGrowth in Columbus.
Stores are “all going to say they’re targeting 18- to 22-year-olds, but the reality is you’re going to get the younger customer,” she said.
U.S. retail sales growth slowed in January, according to the Commerce Department, climbing 0.1 percent amid stubborn joblessness and higher taxes.
Clothing stores eager to boost sales see a gold mine in women’s intimates. The category now generates more than $11.1 billion in annual sales, according to NPD Group, a Port Washington, N.Y.-based market research firm. Limited Brands has said its approximately $1.5 billion Pink brand may be a $3 billion business in a few years.
Limited Brands, American Eagle Outfitters Inc. and Hot Topic were among the top-performing retail stocks last year. Limited Brands gained 17 percent, Hot Topic rallied 46 percent and American Eagle rose 34 percent, compared with a 13 percent increase for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. About 96 percent of analysts recommend holding or buying Limited Brands shares, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News. All 24 analysts surveyed recommend buying or holding American Eagle.
Victoria’s Secret was among the first to tap the market, introducing Pink in 2004.
— Bloomberg News