Is Anthropologie Courting J.Crew’s Dark Fate?

Anthropologie’s current sales track is drawing comparisons to another chic fashion retailer — and it’s not a favorable one.

The Washington Post posits that the women’s clothing chain’s recent history — its 2015 spring line failed to gain traction with consumers, which led to a sales decline that, in turn, forced the brand to attempt to sell off slow-moving items at deep discounts at the end of last year, an effort that did nothing to stop the dropoff in consumer traffic at its 218 locations — is similar to what befell J.Crew, a retailer that is in serious financial trouble.

As the outlet points out, J.Crew — just like Anthropologie — was, not very long ago, near the top of its game. But a series of apparel offerings that did not connect with consumers quickly knocked the retailer off its perch, putting it in something of a tailspin, with buyout rumors now floating as its potential fate, barring a miraculous turnaround.

Although Anthropologie — whose sales, The Washington Post shares, fell by 2 percent in the most recent quarter — is not quite in as dire of a situation as J.Crew for the time being, the outlet suggests that if the bohemian-centric retailer does not start producing apparel that catches on with consumers, it eventually could be.

If there’s an upside for the brand at the moment, it’s the fact that — as the company told The Washington Post — sales of Anthropologie’s non-apparel items (including home products, beauty products, accessories and shoes) are going strong.

With Anthropologie Chairman Richard Hayne telling the outlet that the company sees the possibility that clothing could eventually amount for less than 50 percent of its sales, a brand shift to focus on selling a more even mix of its offerings might prove the retailer’s saving grace. But there’s obviously no guarantee of that, as time appears to be running out.


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