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When the news broke last year that Victoria’s Secret would be phasing out swimwear, the internet (well, the bikini-wearing population, at least) responded with collective devastation. But while the mourning was real among customers, the company had its reasons for dropping the category: Former CEO Sharen Jester Turney called swim her “biggest disappointment,” and analysts said it’d be wise to focus on product that was performing well, namely intimates and activewear.
More than a year later, however, Victoria’s Secret is still feeling the sting of that lost revenue. Shares of its parent company, L Brands, dropped about 6 percent before Thursday’s opening bell, per CNBC, and the lingerie giant is shouldering most of the blame. Third-quarter comparable sales fell by 4 percent and continues a downward trend for the retailer, which has felt the pressures of declining foot traffic in malls and shifting consumer tastes — the same ones that competitor Aerie has profited from. It also shuttered its iconic catalog last year in a move to save $150 million and wavered on bralettes (Aerie’s top seller), first lagging behind on the industry-altering trend and then walking back its major marketing push to focus on the push-up bras the brand is famous for.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for Victoria’s Secret to flip-flop on bikinis, though — its recent sales hits may partially be growing pains. “Category exits are rarely seamless and tend to have carryover impact,” explains Instinet analyst Simeon Siegel. “For example, traffic likely suffered over the summer without the allure of swimwear to bring shoppers into stores. That said, as far as these exits go, if [Victoria’s Secret] can fill the newly empty shelves with compelling product, they should be able to recoup sales.”
The company also has a certain blockbuster marketing push coming up: The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is going down in Shanghai next Monday and is set to air on CBS on Tuesday, November 28th (10 p.m./9 p.m. central, if you want to set your DVR!), and we bet the social media frenzy will drown out any doom and gloom among its core customers. Stock prices aren’t quite as sexy as supermodel selfies, after all.