We shopped at American Eagle and Abercrombie to see which was a better store — and the winner was clear

Abercrombie felt like it hadn't changed much when we visited.

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Abercrombie felt like it hadn’t changed much when we visited.
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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

American Eagle and Abercrombie & Fitch are having a resurgence.

The preppy teen retailers are both thriving right now. Last week, American Eagle reported that comparable sales were up 5% for its namesake brand in the most recent quarter, while Abercrombie & Fitch reported comparable sales were up 1% overall at its flagship brand. Same-store sales were up 3% overall.

American Eagle can thank its sister store Aerie for its recent success. In the third quarter, comparable sales were up a whopping 32% at Aerie, the lingerie and lifestyle brand that has been winning over customers with its campaigns focused on body positivity and female empowerment.

When we visited an American Eagle store in New York, we found that it was bright and upbeat. Both American Eagle and the attached Aerie boutique seemed to be focused on comfort above anything else, with almost everything in-store being advertised as “cozy” and “plush.” In October, a Piper Jaffray survey of 8,600 teens across the US showed that American Eagle is teens’ second favorite brand, only behind Nike.

Abercrombie & Fitch has been slowly coming back as well. The brand has reported same-store sales growth for the last five quarters. While Abercrombie’s sister brand Hollister – ranked sixth on the Piper Jaffray survey – has been the brand’s secret weapon in its comeback, Abercrombie been working on making some changes of its own.

At the company’s investors day in April, CEO Fran Horowitz said, “We are not the Abercrombie & Fitch that you once knew.” Abercrombie has been trying to brighten its stores, ditch its classic logo designs, and say goodbye to its racy ads. But when we visited the store, that isn’t exactly what we found.

We compared shopping at American Eagle and Abercrombie – here’s the verdict:


First I went to an Abercrombie store in Midtown Manhattan.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

When I walked in, I was surprised at how dark it was, considering Abercrombie is trying to change its look.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The store was playing loud music, and the distinct smell of Abercrombie cologne was overwhelming.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

On the first floor were men’s and women’s clothes. There were logo tees, flannels …

Abercrombie felt like it hadn't changed much when we visited.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… sweatpants …

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… jeans, coats, and an array of other products.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There was also a pretty big selection of perfume and cologne on the first floor.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

In the back of the first floor was an online-order pickup station. Abercrombie also offers $20 same-day delivery for online orders.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

I went down to the basement level next. There were $300 jackets …

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… $85 sweatshirts …

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and a wall of sweatpants with the Abercrombie logo on them.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The third floor had more casual women’s clothes and pajamas.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The store felt repetitive, with very similar styles and colors spread across three floors.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Abercrombie Kids was on the fourth floor.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Although Abercrombie reported strong sales and has been working on changing its image, this store was reminiscent of how Abercrombie was years ago.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Next I went to an American Eagle store just a few blocks away.


The store was much brighter than Abercrombie was. It had a more upbeat atmosphere.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The first floor carried women’s clothing. It was a smaller store than Abercrombie was, carrying only one floor of women’s clothing compared to three.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Everything was less expensive than at Abercrombie, but the quality didn’t feel any different. A coat at American Eagle was about half the price of one at Abercrombie.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

In addition to prices being lower at American Eagle, many products were on sale. I didn’t see nearly as many sale signs at Abercrombie when I visited.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were $50 jeans in all different styles, sizes, and colors lining the walls.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were also leggings, slippers …

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and a ton of cozy sweaters for 50% off.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Men’s clothing was on the second floor.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Everything was set up very similarly to the women’s clothes downstairs, and there were just as many sales.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There was a wall of hats, gloves, mugs, and other small products and accessories.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were clothes with the American Eagle logo on them, but not nearly as many as Abercrombie had.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

An Aerie boutique was attached to the American Eagle store.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Aerie’s comparable sales were up 32% in the third quarter. The store was double the size of the attached American Eagle.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

After shopping at both stores, I thought American Eagle was the clear winner. It was brighter and nicer to shop in, less expensive, and seemed to have evolved more than Abercrombie has in recent years.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler