Do you shop for yoga duds at either Lululemon or Athleta? If so, you may have noticed that they seem to pop up in the same places. According to a recent article on the Bloomberg.com, there may be more than a little friendly competition going on. Though a spokesperson for the Gap-owned Athleta has denied it, it seems like Athleta is stalking Lulu and planting news stores nearby to capitalize on the Vancouver brand's traffic.
Lululemon has 112 locations in the US. Athleta only has 22, but more than half of those are nearby to a Lululemon store. Athleta is opening seven more stores this summer and fall and 11 of them will be a 12-minute walk or closer to a Lululemon, according to the article.
It makes sense—it’s not unusual for topically similar stores to pop up in the same area. In fact, the business model could be helpful to both companies, bringing one another’s loyal customers to try out the other brand. But Athleta has a bit of an edge. It prices its clothes more cheaply, an alluring pull for shoppers with smaller budgets.
According to Bloomberg, women’s activewear is now a $14.3 billion market, and is growing steadily. Lululemon made $1 billion in US sales last year, coming in fourth in the country after Apple, Tiffany, and Coach! But Athleta, which started as a mail-order company based in Petaluma, California, before being purchased by Gap in 2008, is catching up.