Survey finds 10 chains account for 47% of sales

Boredom with look-alikes called niche opportunity


Just 10 companies control nearly half the clothing sales in the United States, according to a report by the NPD Group, a market research firm in Port Washington, N.Y.

"Consumers are ultimately going to say, if store A, store B and store C are all the same, why should I go shopping?," NPD Vice President Kathleen Mercer said. "We can't continue to have the sameness we all feel is in the marketplace right now."

The survey, based on 1998 statistics, finds these retailers -- in order of sales generated -- lay claim to 47 percent of the country's apparel sales: J. C. Penney; Wal-Mart Stores Inc.; Dayton Hudson Corp.; Kmart Corp.; May Co.; Federated Department Stores Inc.; Sears, Roebuck & Co.; Limited Corp.; Dillard's Inc.; and the Gap Inc. The report did not release dollar figures.

In 1990, the NPD Group found the top 10 retailers controlled 35 percent of industry sales.

The top 10's increased share of the market was attributed to a flurry of retail consolidations.

"Is it good or bad for the people? It's pretty irrelevant," said George Rosenbaum, chief executive of Leo J. Shapiro & Associates, a Chicago market research firm that studies buying habits.

Rosenbaum said specialty stores and smaller retailers are capitalizing on consumer boredom with department stores, creating a vibrant market for those retailers. "For the talented independent retailer with a point of view, times have never been better," he said.

Pub Date: 5/02/99

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