Forecast: Buckle, Aeropostale Continue To Shine

teensWell, thank goodness teenagers are buying something. A new forecast predicts that two brands--Buckle and Aeropostale, both teen retailers--will continue to do well, and are "almost certain" to increase same-store sales in the next two months. And a third--Hot Topic--is "likely" to see increases, according to a survey from Prosper Technologies' Forecast IQ.

The prediction is based on an ongoing monthly survey of more than 8,000 shoppers' intentions, which is then combined with the same-store sales results of almost 40 leading retail chains to produce a 75-day forecast. And certainly, some of the predictions are hardly surprising: Shoppers plan to spend more at Fred's and Walmart stores, for example, and are likely to spend more at BJ's Wholesale Club, Costco, Family Dollar, and Sam's Clubs, as well as the Children's Place.



Nor is it exactly a news flash that they plan to shop less at such specialty store brands as Banana Republic, Chico's, and the Gap, at such department stores as Bon-ton and Dillard's, or higher-end emporiums, including Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Saks.

But the shift in teen shopping patterns, anticipating a continued decline for Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle and Pacific Sun, may be "a permanent behavior change as a result of the economy," says Phil Rist, Prosper's EVP of strategic initiatives. (The Worthington, Ohio-based company also owns BIGresearch.)

"The high-priced offerings that Abercrombie has been known for just aren't timely in this environment. Retailers that are into fashion should be able to reinvent themselves and reconnect with shoppers. Everyone talks about relevancy, but retailers need to understand what their loyal customers are going through and tailor pricing to that group. This isn't the time to try and persuade people to buy things they don't need."

Buckle, meanwhile, continues to be something of a statistical anomaly in the retail world. The Kearney, Neb.-based company, which operates 384 stores in 39 states, has been posting strong (and often double-digit) increases month after month. "Obviously," Rist says, "they're doing something right, and connecting with their core shopper."

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