Sales Of Women's Clothing Down, Bargains Are Coming

The New York Times says that sales of women’s apparel, usually a staple of the holiday season, are down 6% so far this season.

Expect some bargains as the shopping season wears down:

The drop-off, which the credit card company described Sunday as “surprising,” bodes poorly for chains like Chico’s FAS and Ann Taylor, which specialize in women’s clothing, and could result in steeper-than-expected discounts on their merchandise in the final week before Christmas.

“Even when the dust settles, it is likely to be one of the weakest categories in retail this season,” said John D. Morris, senior retail analyst at Wachovia Securities.

Men looking for similar deals will be out of luck. Sales of men’s clothing are up 4%.

So why are sales of women’s clothing down? Hmm, could it be the fugly clothes? Or maybe you’re broke? What do you think?

Retailers Face an Ominous Holiday Sign
[New York Times] (Thanks, Molly!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. freshyill says:

    I did not purchase any women’s clothing as gifts this year, but I have in the past.

    I didn’t realize I accounted for so much spending.

  2. UpsetPanda says:

    I know that for me, it’s got less to do with money and more to do with selection. Ever since the trend became shapeless babydoll and trapeze dresses that only look good on really thin people, leggings, and overall fugliness for the average-sized woman, I have found it really hard to find things that are my style. I’m 23 for heaven’s sake! It’s not like I’m poo pooing the styles because I’m 70. It’s disappointing to me that I can’t find walk into a store and find something I actually like that is of good quality, without being repulsed by the trends that demand skinny legs and stick barbies.

  3. wring says:

    awful trends: footless tights, skinny jeans, generally fugly selection.

  4. amoeba says:

    I only got a few item for myself this Christmas, mostly SKINNY JEANS because I like them and I look good on them. Other than that, I shop women’s clothes for my own.

  5. jurisenpai says:

    I’ve bought very little clothing this year because of both the rising cost of food, fuel, etc. and because so many of the clothes this year are hideous 80’s throwbacks.

    When will retailers learn that grown women (who actually remember the 80’s) do not want to return to the days of leggings, skinny jeans, and loose tops that make every woman look 7 months pregnant?

  6. I am tired of clothes that do not fit. And not because of my size, because of my SHAPE — f’ex, I have a 13″ rise. Average American woman’s clothing rise is 7-9″. Nothing is ever remotely near my waist.

    I’m also tired of the current trend of loose flowy shirts that make everyone look pregnant. And it’d be okay if things for curvy women instead of boy-shaped teenaged girls came back in for a while.

  7. skittlbrau says:

    Ugly clothes and my general brokeness have held of all non-essential purchases of late.

  8. J.D.Regent says:

    I like how Chico’s was the best clothing company they could come up with.

  9. DrGirlfriend says:

    Clothes have been horrendous this year, I agree. This summer was especially heinous, with the aforementioned trapeze shirts and dresses. I am not pregnant, I do not with to look as if I were. But thanks. And virtually 100% of women I know agree that it was a horrible year for clothes – so maybe stores may want to take a look at that, hmm?

  10. SaraAB87 says:

    Ugly clothes (everything is geared towards a 12 year old) and the fact that I just wear what I have until it wears out. Major clothing purchases other than a 10$ t-shirt here and there are not made until things actually need replacing.

    I apparently have very long arms, which means I am able to wear almost NOTHING in the womens department. In order to get a shirt that has long enough arms, I have to buy it 2 sizes larger than needed, which results in the shirt looking very bad. If I buy the right size the arms of the shirt are halfway up my arms. Its also nearly impossible to buy a coat, and mens coats don’t work because they aren’t made for a woman’s body.

    The constant trend of “low-rise” jeans in sizes 18 and up…. ugh! Hello clothing manufacturers, people who wear plus sizes DO NOT WANT LOW RISE JEANS ALL THE TIME!!! I just want some cargo pants in my size with pockets on the side that can hold stuff.. they are impossible to find!

  11. hamburgerhotdog says:

    Less money for clothes equals less clothing purchased. Also not feeling general trends as of recent.

  12. ideagirl says:

    fugly clothes.

  13. siskamariesophie says:

    I agree, clothes have been fug beyond belief and fit hardly anyone. I am slender yet not stick-thin enough to look good in skinny jeans. Since I am married and in my child-bearing years, I don’t like the confused “is she-isn’t she?” looks I get when wearing a baby doll dress.

  14. HRHKingFriday says:

    Um, to be honest, I’ve been buying clothes and letting them pile up in my closet for years. That, combined with awful trends, made me think: Hey! I have all the clothes I need for now!

  15. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    Glad to know I’m not the only gal repulsed by the current treads. No 30something single career woman wants to dress like she’s a 15-year-old slut. If they had just kept Forth & Towne open, I might be broke. Uh, thanks, Gap Inc.?

  16. land surveyor k says:

    things i hate about the new clothes: awful gigantic 80’s buttons… clothes that look like maternity wear from the early 60’s… like what my aunt wore when she was pregnant with my cousins

  17. DrGirlfriend says:

    So what I’m hearing is that 2007 was the year for women to look like pregnant 15 year old sluts?

  18. new and troubling questions says:

    Women’s clothes have been SO terrible lately…and honestly, even if really skinny women look *relatively* better in them, they’re still really fug. I feel like they’re out to dress us all like Lindsay Lohan in footless tights, cheap ballet flats, etc.

  19. vanillabean says:

    @ideagirl: yeah, fugly clothes.

    I went to buy a dress for a party and the dress department at Macy’s looked like 1975. Polyester print wrap dresses all around.

    I like the simple Calvin Klein late ’90s.

  20. Snakeophelia says:

    I agree that women’s clothes have been not only fugly as of late, but also completely inappropriate for most working women. Trapeze blazers not only look ridiculous on anyone who isn’t stick-thin but also look too trendy for most offices. Short skirts and either skinny or voluminous pants are also too out there to blend in well. And because they were trying to push the tights-with-open-toed-shoes look on us this year, practically every cool high-heeled winter shoe I saw was open-toed! It was either that or booties! What the hell? Thanks, but I live in an area where we actually have winter and where I don’t need make some wacky statement when I get dressed for work.

  21. thatblackgirl says:

    Definitely fugly clothes. Still with the baby doll everything, in colors that make me (a black woman) look like I have jaundice. Enough already!

  22. sixseeds says:

    I gave up on women’s clothing years ago. With the exception of office clothes, I buy men’s clothing now — cheaper, more durable AND men’s pants have pockets you can actually put things in.

    I’d wear men’s dress shirts and slacks to work if I weren’t so damn petite. Tried boy’s clothing, but they didn’t fit either and that was just depressing.

  23. BlondeGrlz says:

    @Snakeophelia: Those booties make me want to kick people. I ususally get sucked into horrible trends (ugh, leggings), but I told my husband if I ever said “Hey, those booties are actually cute” he should tie me to a chair and force me to watch a “What Not To Wear” marathon.

  24. danicalynn says:

    if someone could tell me where jeans are heading, i would be much obliged.

  25. amypop says:

    The trapeze shirts look horrific on any girl who is busty — they add on a good 15lbs. No one needs that.

    It’s been a while since I’ve seen clothes that I utterly love, but I’m now willing to spend more money on quality pieces that will last. I’ll drop a lot of money on Leona Edmiston dresses that are timeless, look fantastic on me and won’t fall apart after three washings.

  26. UpsetPanda says:

    I’m finding that, at least, there are certain stores that cater to business style and don’t vary much on their cuts and fit, just in their colors and patterns. I love trends, I don’t even mind the trapeze blazers, they’re cute. If I feel self conscious in them, that’s my problem, though it’s possible they really do make most women in this world look like hippos. I know Express (despite being a forerunner in this wretched babydoll/trapeze shirt and dress style) still makes great jackets, pants and dress shirts. The Limited does a great job as well. It’s sad when the best fit I can find is at Target because Isaac Mizrahi is the only person in the world who thinks women shouldn’t be wearing awful fabrics.

  27. Imaginary_Friend says:

    Okay, most of us agree that sales are down because the clothes are ugly, right? So do the stores actually think that that lowering the prices will magically make these clothes less ugly?

  28. SaraAB87 says:


    I buy mostly men’s t-shirts because of the above mentioned problem with my long arms. Men’s pants don’t work for me though, they are too straight and I have curves, lol. So its the most basic jeans I can find until someone makes decent looking cargo pants in my size.

    People tend to buy clothes at a lower price even if they are ugly or don’t fit right, because they are cheap. I guess this is the mentality they are trying to push here.

    The lack of non-teenager business-appropriate clothes available in stores other than Macy’s is astounding, its like you have to pay an arm and a leg for clothes if you want to look professional enough to work in an office.

  29. kimsama says:

    Ugh, I know…what is up with the godawful clothes this year?

    The entire year, I could only stand to buy one coat and one sweater in the U.S. I also got a few things in Japan, where it seems that, despite everyone being ridic skinny, clothes for normal-looking people still exist (haha, and yes, clothes for abnormal people, too, of course) and are fairly well-made.

    I cannot wait for the current wave of fashion to just die.

  30. CrazyRedd says:

    The trends for 2008 call for more ugly. The more things change…

  31. gingerCE says:

    It’s the sizing. It’s easier to buy men’s clothes than women’s as gifts. Not only because I think women tend to be trickier in terms of styles, but also sizing whereas men don’t really care if they get something too baggy so it’s easy to err on the side of a size larger–with women, you get something too big for them, they’re gonna be insulted.

    I know I would be.

  32. meeroom says:

    I think the clothes this year are awful too. I have gone shopping a few times and don’t like anything. I just want some nice classic clothes in decent fabrics that don’t fall apart.

  33. etinterrapax says:

    Clothes that are ugly, poorly-made, ill-fitting, and somehow still expensive? Gee. I can’t imagine why sales would be down.

  34. ElizabethD says:

    No maternity-style tops for me, thanks. I’m sticking with my Liz Claiborne, Lands End, J.Jill, and other traditional brands, and straight-leg jeans. Mock if you want (hey, I’m a grandmother), but well-made classic clothing looks good, feels good, and lasts. No need to shop this year!

  35. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @ElizabethD: You’ll get no mocking from me; I think you’re absolutely right. I just wonder why the manufacturers and clothing buyers think people under age 40 don’t care about these things as well.

  36. VeryFancyBunny says:

    I’m just generally disillusioned about the clothing industry. Quality at my “usual” stores has gotten noticeably poorer over the last five years, and yet prices have gone up like crazy. In ’00 and ’01, when I first needed business clothes, I know I could buy a decent pair of work pants for $50. Now, those same pants are around $80. Plus, every store seems to be in on the layering conspiracy. I wandered around Urban Outfitters on my lunch break the other day, and if the Christmas stuff hadn’t been displayed on the left side of the store, you’d have thought it was summer. Tank tops and sleeveless dresses were everywhere. You’d need a sweater and (ugh) leggings to have an outfit warm enough to wear just in the house / office. Their printed t-shirts are something like $28 each, but you’d need two of them to cover up your bra outline.

    My other problem is that I’m being sized out of some stores. I know I’m not shrinking, but lately the sizes I used to wear at, say, Express are way too big for me. For work clothes I’m mostly stuck with Banana Republic Petites and Ann Taylor Petites (oh yay, I’m officially old. At least I don’t own any twinsets). Shopping’s not much fun when you feel confined to the little people’s corner of just a few stores.

  37. @Imaginary_Friend: “So do the stores actually think that that lowering the prices will magically make these clothes less ugly?”

    Well, there’s a big difference between $5 ugly and $50 ugly. A top that’s $5 ugly but I need a top … I might pick that up for gardening or housecleaning. No way at $50 ugly.

  38. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: Good point. I’m pretty stubborn though. I still wouldn’t buy those clothes for gardening or housecleaning, even at $5.00 ugly. I’d rather hit the men’s department or wear my older clothes to threads.

  39. UpsetPanda says:

    Ugly is still ugly regardless of price…it’s just that $5 ugly is more jusstifiable if you are, like Eyebrows McGee, going to wear it to garden. Then it’s a bargain.

  40. CamilleR says:

    I work in women’s retail and it’s largely the ugly clothes that are hurting our sales. The spring stuff coming in is much better than what we had for fall. Fall had way too many baby doll tops and empire waists. No one wants to look pregnant if they aren’t and the empire waists don’t look good on most women. There were also a lot of this that were belted or had ties that also didn’t look good on a lot of people. I usually love my company’s stuff, but this year next to nothing looked tempting. I think the only clothing I bought this fall was a few basic cardigans.

  41. angelcake88 says:

    I thought it was just me too. I kept trying on all these shirts at various stores and almost cried. I’m not huge by any stretch of the imagination, yet all of these shirts and dresses made me look pregnant.

    I finally realized it was the fugly design of them after one ironic thing. Seeing a Barbie doll in Target wearing a babydoll top and looking pregnant. I suddenly felt better because if Barbie didn’t look good in it, then no one can. :P

    They’re just shapeless, ugly, horrible items that need to be burned. Whoever the buyers were for these department stores need deprogramming. Just because that’s what’s being made, doesn’t mean that’s what’s going to sell to the average female.

    There’s also a big issue with dress sizing too lately. I’ve tried on dresses in my size and yet in the chest they’re way too small. Yet I tried on a dress I found at Marshall’s, same make, different year, and it fit perfectly in that size.

    These designers need a good kick in the pants. If I could figure out how to measure and sew, I’d Project Runway myself and be done with this nonsense.

  42. HooFoot says:

    I started a new job earlier and needed to update my office attire. I budgeted a lot of money for clothing, but I was extremely disappointed when most of the dress clothes I found were very poorly made. When one pair of new pants started developing holes the first time I wore it, I promptly exchanged everything I bought from that store that still had a price tag on it.

    I ended up buying most of my clothes at Goodwill, since they were older and thus, better quality. It was also much easier to find stuff that didn’t look downright ridiculous on me.

  43. aquanetta says:

    The “All Clothes Half Off” sign in the picture makes the boutique look like a lame titty bar.

  44. SpaceCat85 says:

    One thing I’ve noticed recently is that the vast majority of women’s clothes now seem to be cut for one figure: skinny arms and a big, straight torso (close waist/hip measurements).

    I’m pear-shaped and have about a 10″ waist/hip ratio, so that means: low-cut pants and most skirts don’t even have skin contact above my hips, anything with an empire waist cut is my enemy, and pretty much every fitted women’s shirt/jacket on the racks these days either gapes at my waist or constricts my arms.

    I’ve wound up buying men’s pants and jackets where possible because, although they don’t fit exactly, they still come a heckuva lot closer than the female equivalents and have “real” size measurements vs. completely arbitrary numbers–my “dress” size sometimes varies 4 sizes between different brands or stores!

  45. ahwannabe says:

    Women’s clothes have been fuuuuuuug-leeeeee for the last year and a half. I’m seriously thinking of just taking my business to the local tailor and having stuff custome made. I may only be able to afford one outfit a year, but it’ll look good, dammit.

  46. mainfr4me says:

    Hey, thanks for using my picture! I appreciate the link back too!

  47. overbysara says:

    clothes were bad this year for anyone over the age of 19.

  48. RottNDude says:

    I came here just to say I love the picture. Very funny.

  49. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    @CamilleR: Care to give us a heads up on spring trends?