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

You’re not going to believe the answer to this question. It also raises important insights for investors.

Jan 10, 2014 at 7:00PM

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 (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 -- 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

Dan Moskowitz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends The Motley Fool owns shares of Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

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Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

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David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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