Walmart is revamping its apparel lines for women, plus sizes and children, in an effort to amplify style, Bloomberg reports. Its Hanes-owned "Just My Size" plus size brand will continue to be available only online, according to the report. Walmart did not immediately respond to Retail Dive's request for comment.
The retail giant also detailed its previously announced tie-up with Lord & Taylor, with apparel, shoes, accessories and jewelry available for free two-day shipping from Walmart.com, according to a presentation detailed by Bloomberg. Lord & Taylor will own the inventory but could fulfill orders through Walmart's e-commerce distribution centers, according to Bloomberg's report.
The news comes amid a push from Target to revamp its private-label apparel lines for men, women and children, including plus sizes available in stores, as well as its in-house home goods and furniture assortment that has pushed up sales for that retailer, and amid rising apparel sales from Amazon's private label efforts in those categories.
Walmart maintains a lead in apparel sales, but Amazon and Target are battling it out at number two, with a style push from each that is resonating with younger, wealthier shoppers.
While Target has lost the most in terms of shoppers switching some or all of their apparel spending to Amazon, Walmart lost the second most, according to research released last week from retail think tank Coresight Research (formerly Fung Global Retail & Technology). Department stores are also losing to Amazon in the category, with Macy's and J.C. Penney ranking "disproportionately high" in terms of how many apparel shoppers they have lost in part or in full to Amazon Fashion, according to the report.
The latest moves from Walmart demonstrated a more segmented approach, according to Coresight founder/CEO Deborah Weinswig, with core ranges including the new private brands in store and online at Walmart.com, but more upscale offerings from the likes of Bonobos and Modcloth only at Jet and at those brands' flagship sites.
"We think this is an impressively tiered strategy that serves a number of consumer segments through different channels," Weinswig told Retail Dive in an email. "The Lord & Taylor agreement builds out the third-party offering on Walmart.com, the acquired brands allow Walmart to tap millennial fashion shoppers, and the overall strategy appears to recognize the diversity of demands in the apparel market."
Younger shoppers "are ready to embrace a full Amazon Fashion experience," Weinswig noted in her report last week. Survey respondents ages 18 to 29 registered "much higher interest" than older shoppers in Amazon's private labels, its Prime Wardrobe service and even the possibility of Amazon opening physical fashion stores, according to Coresight's research.
The new push from Walmart is fundamentally the right approach, she said on Tuesday, and not just because of the rise of Amazon or Target. "The closure of more than 3,300 apparel stores and almost 700 department stores over the past year means billions of dollars of apparel spending are potentially up for grabs, and Walmart may be aiming to capture some of that," she said.