We visited American Eagle and Abercrombie to see which resurgent teen store was better to shop at - and the winner was clear
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler
- American Eagle Outfitters and Abercrombie & Fitch are making a comeback.
- Last week, American Eagle reported that comparable sales were up 5% for its namesake brand in the most recent quarter, while Abercrombie & Fitch reported comparable sales were up 1% overall at its flagship brand. Same-store sales were up 3% overall for Abercrombie.
- When we compared visits to the two stores, we found there was a clear winner between them. Here's the verdict.
American Eagle and Abercrombie & Fitch are having a resurgence.
The preppy teen retailers are both thriving right now. Last week, American Eagle reported that comparable sales were up 5% for its namesake brand in the most recent quarter, while Abercrombie & Fitch reported comparable sales were up 1% overall at its flagship brand. Same-store sales were up 3% overall.
American Eagle can thank its sister store Aerie for its recent success. In the third quarter, comparable sales were up a whopping 32% at Aerie, the lingerie and lifestyle brand that has been winning over customers with its campaigns focused on body positivity and female empowerment.
When we visited an American Eagle store in New York, we found that it was bright and upbeat. Both American Eagle and the attached Aerie boutique seemed to be focused on comfort above anything else, with almost everything in-store being advertised as "cozy" and "plush." In October, a Piper Jaffray survey of 8,600 teens across the US showed that American Eagle is teens' second favorite brand, only behind Nike.
Abercrombie & Fitch has been slowly coming back as well. The brand has reported same-store sales growth for the last five quarters. While Abercrombie's sister brand Hollister - ranked sixth on the Piper Jaffray survey - has been the brand's secret weapon in its comeback, Abercrombie been working on making some changes of its own.
At the company's investors day in April, CEO Fran Horowitz said, "We are not the Abercrombie & Fitch that you once knew." Abercrombie has been trying to brighten its stores, ditch its classic logo designs, and say goodbye to its racy ads. But when we visited the store, that isn't exactly what we found.
We compared shopping at American Eagle and Abercrombie - here's the verdict:
First I went to an Abercrombie store in Midtown Manhattan.
When I walked in, I was surprised at how dark it was, considering Abercrombie is trying to change its look.
The store was playing loud music, and the distinct smell of Abercrombie cologne was overwhelming.
On the first floor were men's and women's clothes. There were logo tees, flannels ...
... sweatpants ...
... jeans, coats, and an array of other products.
There was also a pretty big selection of perfume and cologne on the first floor.
In the back of the first floor was an online-order pickup station. Abercrombie also offers $20 same-day delivery for online orders.
I went down to the basement level next. There were $300 jackets ...
... $85 sweatshirts ...
... and a wall of sweatpants with the Abercrombie logo on them.
The third floor had more casual women's clothes and pajamas.
The store felt repetitive, with very similar styles and colors spread across three floors.
Abercrombie Kids was on the fourth floor.
Although Abercrombie reported strong sales and has been working on changing its image, this store was reminiscent of how Abercrombie was years ago.
Next I went to an American Eagle store just a few blocks away.
The store was much brighter than Abercrombie was. It had a more upbeat atmosphere.
The first floor carried women's clothing. It was a smaller store than Abercrombie was, carrying only one floor of women's clothing compared to three.
Everything was less expensive than at Abercrombie, but the quality didn't feel any different. A coat at American Eagle was about half the price of one at Abercrombie.
In addition to prices being lower at American Eagle, many products were on sale. I didn't see nearly as many sale signs at Abercrombie when I visited.
There were $50 jeans in all different styles, sizes, and colors lining the walls.
There were also leggings, slippers ...
... and a ton of cozy sweaters for 50% off.
Men's clothing was on the second floor.
Everything was set up very similarly to the women's clothes downstairs, and there were just as many sales.
There was a wall of hats, gloves, mugs, and other small products and accessories.
There were clothes with the American Eagle logo on them, but not nearly as many as Abercrombie had.
An Aerie boutique was attached to the American Eagle store.
Aerie's comparable sales were up 32% in the third quarter. The store was double the size of the attached American Eagle.
After shopping at both stores, I thought American Eagle was the clear winner. It was brighter and nicer to shop in, less expensive, and seemed to have evolved more than Abercrombie has in recent years.
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