Clothes hogs of Gen Y saving economy


With no home equity and having just started their 401(k)s, most people in their late teens and early 20s can afford to spend money on clothes and other discretionary items.

With December sales up 13.1% from a year ago at Buckle, a youth-oriented clothing store, it looks like its market of Generation Y is doing its part to increase spending and trying to keep the recession from worsening.

The retailer based in Kearney, Neb. is on track to see its sales grow 26% in 2008 to $780 million, making it one of the best performers in retailing, according to BusinessWeek.

While Buckle's sales increased in December, same store sales dropped for the same period other retailers: 4% at Macy's, 14% at Gap, 17% at American Eagle, and 24% at Abercrombie & Fitch.

The clothing market is always a fickle one, especially among young shoppers, but Buckle has found its niche by staying on top of hot labels and using a "shallow and wide" inventory strategy. It stocks dozens of hot brands, but in just a few sizes for each style. New merchandise arrives daily in different colors or design as the items it replaces, preventing the social faux pas of seeing a friend in the same outfit.

With this being their first recession, Gen Y members aren't as scared as others of spending when money is tight. Fashion, it seems, is always in style and worth spending on.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at