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Aeropostale: Rounding The Corner? - Part 6: The Focus And Discipline Were Short-Lived

As part of a promised turn-around, Aeropostale demonstrated a newfound focus and discipline back in August.

In September, with the peak of BTS behind them, Aeropostale showed signs of slippage in that focus and discipline.

Late September and October have demonstrated a lack of understanding of some basic assortment planning and buying strategies.

The Girls side is problematic, but they at least seem to have cultivated some level of embrace, evidenced by selling out of some key items.

The Guys side is back in disarray, with no obvious category of product that appears to be selling through.

Aeropostale showed promise back in August. A turn-around had been promised for the BTS season and ARO did indeed look like they were putting forward a rejuvenated, focused, balanced floor set. I spent a month doing headcounts in Aeropostale (NYSE:ARO), American Eagle (NYSE:AEO), Abercrombie (NYSE:ANF), PacSun (NASDAQ:PSUN) and others just to see how the customer was behaving during the BTS shopping window. ARO was more than holding its own in both shoppers and buyers. I devoted four specific articles applauding their efforts. A fifth article noted deterioration. This sixth article chronicles a deepening of that deterioration.

Over the course of September, there was a steady inflow of new product, but the floor just kept getting more and more crowded. Peak BTS shopping was history, but the product selection kept growing. Prior delivery fashion was not selling down and out fast enough to make room for these new receipts. Flowing new novelty and replacing old styles with new fresh product = good. Adding a breadth of assortment to the point where it prevents focused story telling = bad. 4 pounds in a 2 pound bag is not a recommended formula for brick and mortar. Part of the denim wall...