Jun 6, 2024 - News

A&F among retail brands making a comeback

A shopper holds an Abercrombie & Fitch bag.

A shopper carries an Abercrombie & Fitch bag in New York City. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg via Getty Images

It's the revenge of the mall retailers: Several local chains that were once floundering are enjoying a sudden resurgence.

Why it matters: Some apparel stores, including New Albany-based Abercrombie & Fitch, have refashioned their approaches to better appeal to today's customers.

State of play: Several retailers are on the comeback trail, as evidenced by their recent earnings reports:

  • Abercrombie & Fitch, with locations at Easton and Polaris, smashed expectations with a 22% jump in sales in its first fiscal period, compared with a year earlier.
  • Gap beat top and bottom line expectations for all four of its brands: Gap, Athleta, Banana Republic and Old Navy.
  • American Eagle Outfitters reported record revenue.

What they're saying: "Abercrombie, American Eagle and Foot Locker are all reaping the rewards of strategies that are focused on the consumer," GlobalData retail analyst Neil Saunders tells Axios in an email.

  • "All the businesses have worked hard to secure loyalty and spending and their efforts are paying off."

The intrigue: That a brand like Abercrombie can make a comeback should be an encouraging sign for others.

  • Once seen as yesterday's news, the company reworked its approach to fashion, downplaying its logo and focusing on an older crowd than the teens it once focused on, according to Fast Company.
  • "There are very few established retailers producing this level of growth in the market," Saunders said.

Reality check: Other locally headquartered chains have not fared quite as well, but are still painting rosy financial pictures.

🕯️ Bath and Body Works' Q1 sales were down around 1% from last year.

  • The Columbus chain called this a "better-than-expected start" to 2024 and boasted about its loyalty program with 18% more active members than a year ago.

💄 Victoria's Secret, based in Reynoldsburg, saw its Q1 net sales decrease 3-4% compared to last year.

  • "The retail environment in North America remains challenging and the promotional environment was very competitive," the chain told investors.

Zoom in: Victoria's Secret has rolled out new "Stores of the Future" in Dublin and Easton that feature smaller, sleeker footprints designed to be more inviting to customers.

  • Fitting rooms also feature technology that lets customers track their items and request new ones to try on, similar to Easton's now-defunct Amazon Style store we visited last year.
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