Walmart.com ending line of trendy women's clothes

NEW YORK Thu Jul 17, 2008 4:53pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc's online division is ending a line of trendy women's clothing that it had been selling since last August.

"We don't have plans to continue it at this time," Walmart.com chief merchant Kelly Thompson said in an interview.

Called z.b.d. design, the clothing line was being sold as a test on the retailer's website after it faced rocky attempts to sell hipper apparel in its physical stores.

When it was introduced, the z.b.d line featured items such as a tweed trapeze jacket for $29.88, matching wide-leg tweed trousers for $22.88 and a puff-sleeve button-down shirt for $16.88.

But Thompson said with the U.S. economy in a downturn, its shoppers are looking for basic apparel items, like tank tops and shorts.

"We've gotten a better return in focusing more on seasonal key items that are a little bit more basic," she said.

Wal-Mart's efforts in 2006 to compete with Target Corp and sell hipper clothes, such as skinny jeans and velvet blazers, backfired with its shoppers, who were looking for basic, affordable clothing. That misstep left Wal-Mart with heaps of unsold merchandise it was forced to mark down, hurting sales and margins.

The world's largest retailer has since revamped its apparel offerings to focus on key items, like socks and underwear, that shoppers need.

Wal-Mart often sells different merchandise on its website than it does in stores. It has said its online customers tend to have higher incomes than those who shop in-store, which means some merchandise might be better suited for sale online.

(Reporting by Nicole Maestri, editing by Maureen Bavdek)

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