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The juniors report from five key retailers

By Tiffany Montgomery
June 24, 2008 5:18 AM

In my quest to find out the climate in the juniors market, today I turn to five well-known retailers in different parts of the country. I asked each to share with me how juniors merchandise is selling and any interesting trends, positive or negative.

Since the report is from a handful of retailers, it offers a small snapshot of the climate out there. Some retailers are up in juniors, some flat and some are down.

There are a few common themes, however. For larger brands, Billabong Girls is performing well. Also, there seems to be a appetite among shoppers for smaller brands with a different look. Several retailers noted newer brands with distinctive styling are catching on.

Here's the retailers' report from the field:

Dee Nachnani, Coastal Edge. Dee and his wife, Stephanie, own eight stores in Virginia and North Carolina.

"We are up from last year chainwide approximately 5 percent in women. The four women's brands that are leading the charge are Billabong, Volcom, O'Neill and Roxy.

An interesting development is how well Lost's junior line is doing.

"I tried to look into color schemes to see if any specific colors were trending up and had no such luck. What I did notice was that buying patterns were on style. In other words, if our junior customer liked the style and fit we blew out of it.

"Another trend we are noticing are that short sales are flat but T-shirt and dress sales are doing very well. The Billabong Liz dress is leading the way in the No. 1 slot for dresses.

"Accessories had close to a 10 percent increase on sales over last year with purses leading the way. Larger purses sold faster then smaller ones. The combination of purse and matching wallet is doing very well.

"Another strong category is women's totes with O'Neill's "Just Peachy" tote bag in the No. 1 slot.

"A few years ago when the women's surf market decided to get into the women's swim game, it was a nice addition to our overall women's swim department. Now we certainly see the growth of the surf brands and their ability to communicate their story to the juniors of today. For example, Volcom had no presence in women's swim a few years ago, and is now carving out a piece of the pie with very strong sell throughs."


bruce cromartie mugBruce Cromartie, B.C. Surf & Sport, 15 stores in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Utah, Nebraska and Washington. (Shown here at an ASR panel.)


"We are almost flat for the year in juniors. Sales are down about 2%YTD, but gross profit is up about 2%, due to a little cleaner buy.

"We are experiencing some general softness with a lot of the more established brands. Billabong has been the strongest brand in that group, with about a 20% increase YTD. Most others have been between flat and a 10% to 15% decrease. A lot of the weakness has been offset (so far) by growth with smaller brands, like Matix and Lucy Love."

Hobie San ClementeAdrienne Collins, Hobie soft goods buyer, five stores in Orange County

"Same stores are up in juniors for the year.


"Key trends for us have been beach pants, short shorts (denim cut offs are starting to take off), colored skinny jeans and trouser jeans, woven fashion tanks, and bright basics (tees and tanks). Dresses are still going strong with easy throw-on styles leading the sales. Maxi dresses have also been good for us."


Steve Carlson and Mikke PiersonSteve Carlson, general manager, Central Coast Surfboards, San Luis Obispo, California. Steve is on the left below with Mikke Pierson of ZJ Boarding House.

"The juniors scene up here has really been tough. We've had a cold spring so a lot of our projections went wrong.

"I think the college girl (of which we have a lot!) may have grown out of wearing some of the "surf" industry brands. If they've grown up wearing them, now they are in a new phase of life that doesn't necessarily need them. We're not a mall based geographic zone up here, so specialty boutique business is rampant. We have a ton of female competition on our street and obviously they cater to the college girl and their fashion sense.


"Shorts and skirts have been really lagging categories due to the weather more than anything, but an overall softness exists across departments. Many reasons could be cited for a bit of decline. Dresses have worked pretty well, but again they have competed here with the weather and numerous outlets to purchase them.


"The girls here really love Reef's collection as well as Matix, Element and Ed Hardy. O'Neill consistently does well, but it just doesn't seem like the (females here) are super psyched on some of the big brands. They did like what they saw with the Quiksilver women's line, but we'll see what transpires there."

Mikke Pierson, co-owner, ZJ Boarding House, Santa Monica. ZJ's has three adjacent stores on Main Street - surf and snow, skate and juniors.

"So far this year we are basically even in sales in our juniors store.

"And right now our juniors store is on fire and was up 11% over last year in May. Dresses and swimwear are very hot and we are trending far ahead of last year. Dresses are up 60% this year and swimwear is up 15%! At the same time the top and short business is down as a result.


"As far as brands, Indah is super hot right now. Actually the only problem we have with Indah is that the employees keep trying to buy it all right when it gets here. Billabong and Hurley are doing well. Volcom is soft for us right now. Women's sandals and sidewalk surfers are hot. And Ugg boots will be a big seller again this coming winter."



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