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Brick-and-Mortar Fails Denim Shoppers, New Report Shows

Denim brands can pull out all the stops to offer an engaging in-store experience, but if they don’t keep proper inventory, customers will leave empty-handed.

AI-powered tech company CB4 came to this conclusion with its latest apparel survey published on last week. The survey, which considered the purchasing habits of 1,598 U.S. shoppers at more than 90 apparel stores across teen, contemporary, athletic and luxury categories, provides retailers with insight on how to boost in-store sales.

CB4 found that 82 percent of respondents left the store without purchasing the product they came for. And for 24 percent of shoppers, that product was jeans.

Aside from footwear, pants and tees/polos, jeans are the most difficult item to find at stores, according to participants. This could be attributed to the simple notion that a good pair of jeans is hard to find, whether shopping in-person or online.

According to Heidi Sax, content marketing manager at CB4 and the author of the report, it could also just be a matter of there being too many variations of jeans. “Given the sheer number of SKUs associated with a single style of jeans, it’s not surprising that retailers struggle with denim availability,” she told Rivet.

Jeans were especially hard to find at specialty stores such as Catherine’s, Lane Bryant, Woman Within and others. According to respondents, jeans were the single most unavailable product, and 50 percent said they couldn’t find their ideal size or color.

Consumers also struggle to find jeans at teen retailers such as American Eagle, Levi’s, Urban Outfitters and Guess: Jeans were the second most commonly unavailable item at these stores. And while these shoppers—along with shoppers at specialty sizing stores—identify product selection as the main reason they shop at those stores, 64 percent said the product they were looking for was out of stock.

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But in some instances, customers will leave a store and head directly online. So is the case for 42 percent of shoppers at specialty sizing stores and 34 percent of shoppers at teen retailers.

Only 17 percent of teen shoppers and 10 percent of specialty sizing shoppers said they will seek out a similar product from a different brand, proving that brand loyalty trumps store experience for these consumers.

Still, Sax advises retailers to pay more mind to their in-store customer experience and not rely on their brands to carry them.

“In order to remain competitive, denim sellers need to capitalize on every single selling opportunity by making products available and findable to shoppers at every store in their chain,” she said.