Burlington Stores Inc. plans to offer more casual and activewear clothes instead of its legacy dresses and suits in order to keep up with changing customer preferences, the company’s chairman and CEO, Thomas Kingsbury, said last week.
Although the New Jersey company’s total sales rose 7.3% to $1.6 billion in the first quarter, which ended May 4, the women’s clothing category has not been performing as well. So the hope, Kingsbury said on an earnings call, is that focusing on the sportswear offering within women’s clothing will boost the category.
“We need to move on from dresses and suits,” Kingsbury told analysts. “We need to make sure that we’re presenting to the customer the product that they want.”
Casual and comfortable clothing has been edging out more formal work attire.
The U.S. women’s suit market has dropped almost in half to $407.7 million since 2013, while men’s suits dropped by 12% to $1.98 billion, according to Euromonitor International, a market researcher.
At the same time, Euromonitor’s beauty and fashion consultant Ayako Homma said the “athleisure” brands are offering such clothes as blouses and blazers that people can wear to work. Homma attributes this change to the millennial generation entering the workforce and preferring a more casual environment.
Although the casual workplace culture started in the early 1990s with “casual Fridays,” it expanded to more days of the week, said Barbara Kahn, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
Burlington, based in Burlington, New Jersey, made its name as a coat-focused off-price store and transitioned in 2006 to a department store model. When that didn’t work, the company zeroed in on becoming a well-known off-price retailer, Wells Fargo Securities analysts wrote in a Thursday note to investors.