Hy-Vee is adding clothing boutiques to four Nebraska stores this summer, according to an article in the Lincoln Journal Star.
F&F, a British brand owned by Tesco, the long-time supermarket company, is described in the article as “ a fashion label that offers moderately priced clothing for men, women, and children.”
Hy-Vee entered into a franchise agreement to sell the clothing last year, and the first F&F boutique opened in a Minneapolis-area Hy-Vee store last year. The stores are going to be altered to fit the boutiques into their existing buildings, and the clothing retailer will have fitting rooms and its own checkout area.
To all obvious appearances, American consumers really have little interest in shopping for clothes and groceries at the same time and in the same place.
Wal-Mart is the exception. It started as a general merchandise store. Clothing seemed like a sensible addition, so it was added. Food also sounded like a good idea, so it was added. Through these additions and growth, Wal-Mart has become America's largest grocer – and the other two-thirds of their stores have come to be the add-ons. Though a big part of Wal-Mart's success across the board is its low prices, which extend to grocery and other goods.
The mindset is different in Europe. The difference is exemplified by Harrods, a feature on every first-time London visitor's list. It has one of the most fabulous “food halls” — selling some of the world's finest groceries — to be found anywhere.
And here's the thing: A wall away from the food hall, there are counters offering jewelry selling for tens of thousands of dollars and clothing from the finest fashion names.
American retailers don't seem to be able to do that match-up. However, most American grocery stores try to provide both quality food and low prices to consumers — unlike Harrods, which sells luxury food.
As American groceries try to revamp their image, however, clothing sales may take off. Stores are working to improve the experience shoppers get while looking for their purchases. Thanks to Wal-Mart and low-cost popular clothing retailers like H&M, people are no longer equating fashion with high price tags. And with Lidl opening on the East Coast later this year, grocery shoppers may be seeing more clothes for sale next to their food. Clothing is one of the mainstay offerings in its European stores.
Whether shoppers will want to take a break from grabbing a gallon of milk to try on a new pair of jeans, though, remains to be seen.