Another one seems ready to bite the dust.
Retail chain Destination Maternity reportedly filed for bankruptcy on Monday (Oct. 21), the latest commerce operator to be on the verge of extinction in this age of digital and mobile. According to CNBC, the retailer is “buckling under the weight of an onerous debt load and struggling to compete with better capitalized competition.” The company owns 458 stores in the U.S., though they also operate under such brands as Motherhood Maternity and Pea in the Pod stores. “As the retailer has dealt with deteriorating finances and a heavy debt load, it has been facing fortified competition from larger retailers that have the resources to invest in their online businesses,” that report added.
The move comes amid growth in the larger maternity market, however, with sales of that apparel expected to reach $7.7 billion in 2013, representing a 2.10 percent CAGR since 2017, according to one recent estimate. “Growing number of working pregnant women and increasing demand from developing regions are the basic factors that will boost the maternity apparel market,” that report said. “Introduction of organic and radiation proof clothing, presence of innovative innerwear, increased sales through online shops are the latest trends and opportunities in the market that are likely to affect the market during the forecast period.”
Even if one particular retail chain or another is having trouble keeping its edge amid such changes, apparel as a whole is driving a good amount of merchant innovation. Apparel used to be mostly a brick-and-mortar retail experience, but that has changed drastically over the last few years — and has been one of the main innovations when it comes to commerce related to the clothes we wear.
And like so many other areas of retail, apparel is becoming much more about the overall consumer experience. According to the PYMNTS Connected Consumer Playbook, “Consumers may not call that ‘omnichannel,’ but that’s clearly what they want their favorite merchants to enable for them.” In addition, shoppers see value in personalized offers that match their buying preferences, or the ability to use their phones to scan a tag and place an online order for an out-of-stock item.
From rue21 to Walmart, retailers in the clothing and accessories market are enabling ways to make shopping a little easier.
About one-quarter — or 26.8 percent — of existing customers indicate the most influential consumer experiences are well-coordinated online and in-store properties. For instance, retailers are providing shoppers with omnichannel experiences through offerings like buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS).
In recent times, fast fashion apparel retailer rue21 announced plans to bring the offering to more than 700 stores. Shoppers can check the availability of an item in the store closest to them, make the purchase online and pick up the product without paying shipping fees.
Just under 15 percent — or 14.3 percent — of existing customers indicate the most influential consumer experiences include personalized offers. And retailers are teaming up with players in the subscription box space to deliver personalized kids’ fashions to customers. Walmart, in one case, is teaming with KIDBOX to offer curated style boxes for kids that customers can receive seasonally. Customers on Walmart.com can access styles from brands like C&C California, Butter Super Soft, Puma and BCBG.
Maternity sellers are certainly not immune to those larger trends. According to another report, in fact, social media, millennial digital and mobile preferences, and more demand for fashionable maternity wear is driving global growth in this retail segment. And no matter what happens with Destination Maternity — or other brick-and-mortar apparel merchants — those retailers will have to focus more on Generation Z. Target is among the retailers leading that charge, with house brands geared toward the retailer’s teen and young adult customers.
One retailer may be on its way down, but more will survive to fight another day.