Trick Question: What Retailer Sells the Most Clothes to Men? Prepare to be Surprised!

If you're male, then you probably don't enjoy shopping for clothes. The vast majority of males don't find this experience enjoyable. We'd rather be watching or playing sports, spending time with family (away from the store), or even working. Give us a pair of jeans and our preferred type of shirt and we'll be good to go for months. For some men, years. However, as unfortunate as it may sound, there are times when our attire becomes old and worn. At this point, we must brave the crowds, salespeople, and boringness of the retail environment and pick out a few new items.

What you might be wondering is if you shop in the same places that most other men shop. I can provide you with that answer. It's an answer that has importance for investors. Additionally, it's an answer that might not just surprise you, but floor you.  

This article won't exclude the ladies. We'll also take a look at whether most men and women prefer to shop in stores or online. We'll also break that information down.

This retailer makes the most sales to men
Before revealing the most popular retailer for men who seek attire, let's first cover what types of stores men prefer when shopping for clothes.

Approximately 32% of men prefer to shop at a department store, 27% of men opt for a discount store, 17% have no preference, 12% shop at a specialty retailer, 7.5% fall into the "other" category, 3% shop online, 2% go with a catalog, and just 1% shop at a membership warehouse.

Despite department stores scoring the highest in this survey, several department stores were in the middle of the list when men were asked about specific retailers. When you look at specific retailers, the retailer that saw the most traffic from men was ... (this one really requires a drumroll) ... Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE: WMT  ) .

I'm a fan of Wal-Mart, and it's well known for its massive product diversification at everyday low prices, but this shocked me. Then again, if you think about it logically, Wal-Mart is still the largest retailer in the world and it sells men's clothes. The math makes sense. It's also yet another example of how Wal-Mart is nowhere near its demise as many people speculate. It has maintained its brick-and-mortar presence well, despite the rising popularity of online retailers. You can also look at it this way. If online retailers are steamrolling smaller retailers and forcing them out of business, this drives more brick-and-mortar shoppers to Wal-Mart.

To continue with that list, 17% of men have no preference for a specific retailer when shopping for clothes, 14% fall in the "other" category, 11% go to Kohl's, 8% prefer J.C. Penney, 7% choose Macy's, 3% choose Target (NYSE: TGT  ) , 2.5% go with Sears, and 2% visit Gap's Old Navy.

Aside from Target's data breach, I'm a fan of the company. It has managed to establish a reputation as a big-box retailer that offers discounts in a clean and comfortable shopping environment. Adding organic and natural food and expanding into Canada also give Target top-line potential. However, this is one of many examples where Target lags Wal-Mart.

If 18% of men prefer to shop for clothes at Wal-Mart and just 3% choose Target, this drives more male consumers to Wal-Mart's stores, which often leads to the purchase of other products. This also means that Target is failing to steal market share in this category. 

Conclusively, it can be established that Wal-Mart is the big winner in the physical retail world for men's clothes, but what about the rapidly growing Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) ?

Physical vs. online retailers
The Huffington Post and YouGov recently teamed up to do a study on the popularity of shopping for clothes at brick-and-mortar retailers in comparison with online retailers. The study surveyed 1,000 men and women in the United States.

According to this study, 36% of respondents usually shopped for clothes in a store, but they occasionally shopped online. Also according to the study, 34% of consumers who shopped for clothes only shopped at physical retailers, 12% usually shopped online and occasionally shopped in stores, 14% shopped at physical stores and online retailers about as frequently, 2% only shopped for clothes online, and 2% weren't sure.

Based on these results, it appears that while online retailers -- Amazon.com being the largest -- have seen significant growth, they still have a long way to go to catch up to physical retailers when it comes to clothes shopping. The big positive of online clothes shopping is free shipping in some cases, but as of right now, the negatives outweigh the positives. The negatives include not being able to touch and feel the product, the potential for clothing of the wrong size or color being delivered, and the hassle and wait times associated with returning items.  

The Foolish takeaway
This is only one piece of a much larger puzzle when it comes to retail, but this piece tells us that most people still prefer to shop for clothes in person, and that more men prefer to shop for clothing at Wal-Mart than at any other retailer. Advantage Wal-Mart. 

No Pitch


Read/Post Comments (11) | Recommend This Article (5)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2014, at 10:21 PM, ehudslefthand wrote:

    I dunno where you got your information but walmart sucks for shopping for a guy, i went there looking for a jacket cause mine finally wore out, so i went to walmart, which had some jackets for us guys but nuffin really warm, so i tried on a few and found one i kinda liked( now i looked at the kids and womans section and they had a huge selection, but us guys it was the worst seletction i ever seen in my life )

    and it was the wrong size. so i went to the burlington coat factory and FOUND what i was looking for, so i dunno where you get these numbers but no one i know that is male shops for guy clothes at walmart.

  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2014, at 10:50 PM, adamwins76 wrote:

    I'm not sure about this poll. I don't know any men who shop at Walmart for clothing.

  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2014, at 11:57 PM, nesst wrote:

    Wow... this column has more holes that a bagel shop. Lately, it seem like Motley Fool is written mostly by college kids who lack perspective on what happens in the real world.

    Okay: for starters, after making a big deal about who the "leading" retailer is for mens clothes, you neglect to tell us what percentage of men shop there, even though you list many other retailers and options in the next paragraph:

    So is Walmart's lead over other retailers merley marginal? Or is it really substantial enough to even justify writing a column about it?

    You also note that 17% have no preference, and 14% shop in "other" stores. Is Walmart higher or lower than these percentages?

    Because if its not, then its not leading the specified retailers by much.

    You also overlook a major factor:

    Lots of men don't know where their clothes came from because they didn't buy the clothes themselves; their wives or girlfriends bought the clothes for them.

    I'd guess that the data omits a good 30% of the male population for that reason alone. When you factor in that 31% of the respondents have no preference, or shop at "other", it doesn't seem like Walmart's edge is all that meaningful.

  • Report this Comment On January 11, 2014, at 12:57 AM, madmilker wrote:

    Wal*Mart has its Global Procurement Office in China, put less than 5% foreign in all its stores in China, commissioned super cargo ships to bring Made In China to America years ago and each one of those ships pollute as much as 50 million cars each year.

    WHAT IS THERE TO LOVE.

    1975 the last year America had a trade surplus.

    Total US Government Debt in 1975 a mere $533 billion and in only 38 years...it's over $17 trillion.

    WHAT IS THERE TO LOVE.

    Retail makes NOTHING....it only moves a countries currency,

    and one day young Americans will wake up like the nice people of Germany, South Korea, India and South Africa and realize that there were not 47 million Americans on food stamps nor 20 million Americans unemployed in 1975...

    neither was Wal*Mart's Global Procurement Office in China.

    Now, young man....

    America has a $16 trillion GDP...

    How many years before America has no dollars if and when the Federal Reserve stops printing all of your future debt....

    with America having a 6 to 1 trade deficit with China....

    40 years....

    1975 was the last year America had a trade surplus...

    and here you are loving something that hasn't made a dang thing but just continues moving wealth from the hands of Americans and placing that wealth in the hands of foreigners.

    Only in America...

    even Putin is laughing his butt off....

    at the ignorance.

  • Report this Comment On January 11, 2014, at 7:56 AM, waltercook wrote:

    Put Walmart in the league for the women buying clothes for their husband and children as Sears and Penney. As country bifurcated these shops go down as higher end sells more at higher margins.

    Food is only thing keeping Walmart from demise along with others

  • Report this Comment On January 11, 2014, at 9:45 AM, garstrom wrote:

    First of all I hate Sprawl-Mart, my wife makes me go because she likes the groceries, I used to buy a lot

    of clothes B4 I retired and W/M would be the last place I would buy, Even now when I'm forced to go to WM at gunpoint, I wander through the clothing dept and never see anyone shopping.

    JC has quality clothing, and good pricing, KOHL'S is to expensive, Target has a good selection with OK quality.

    Good Day to all...

  • Report this Comment On January 11, 2014, at 11:01 AM, Dalton wrote:

    Wrangler jeans are so much less expensive at Wal-Mart so why go somewhere else and pay half again as much or in some cases twice that price?

  • Report this Comment On January 11, 2014, at 11:58 AM, HITMANMONKEY wrote:

    Why would I be surprised by this at all? I figured it would be Wal Mart before I got to it in the article. News Flash: Guys don't like to shop and they don't like to spend money on clothes. That's where Wal Mart comes in. Is the Motley Fool using crappy user writers like the Yahoo network? Smh

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 2:15 AM, InitialG wrote:

    A lot of socks and underwear must be purchased by guys a Wal-Mart because that's the only thing I can think of to make this article true.

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 9:43 PM, neamakri wrote:

    I am "over 60". My wife buys almost all of my clothes including socks and underwear. So if you assume that Wally sells mens clothes to me, you are wrong (see article title).

    My wife shops for bargains at Kohls, Macys, JCPenney, etc. We both frequent Wally only because it is very close (0.7 mile).

    By the way my last two clothing purchases were at JCPenney. My last clothing experiences at Walmart and Target were bad. If I made a Top-5 places to buy mens clothes, Wally would not be on the list.

    "well known for its massive product diversification" Really? Here are three ordinary items to try locate in a Walmart (1)10mm panhead machine screw (2)a small can of chopped green chilis (3)a corded rotary head shaver. Ready, set, go!

  • Report this Comment On January 16, 2014, at 10:58 AM, BTN100 wrote:

    I think the survey should have distinguised between pants, shirt, jackets, etc, and underwear, socks, govles etc. Also, I'm sure amrried guys are much less picky....

    PS, madmilker: Noting that the trade deficit started 40 years ago, you should realize that it's not today's "young man" that created WalMart's dominance

    40 years ago, the oldest boomers were 28, spending money for 10 years. Now the youngest baby boomers are in their low 50's in their prime money-earning years.

    I'm not saying today's young men would have spent any differntly, but clearly WalMart and every other dominant company in the US has baby boomers to thank.

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