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Boot Barn: All I want for Christmas…is to Be a Cowboy

Caroline Wu
Jan 13, 2023
Boot Barn: All I want for Christmas…is to Be a Cowboy

We've had Boot Barn on our radar screen for some time, including a look at why the company was bucking the declining visitation trends across the apparel retail sector last June and including them on our 10 Top Brands to Watch list for 2023. The company is already off to a great start to 2023, reporting sales growth for the quarter ending Dec. 24 of 5.9% (at the high end of its outlook) despite December storms in several key markets, flat retail same-store sales growth (against a 55.2% increase in the year-ago period), encouraging visit trends at new stores, and resilient merchandise margins despite a highly promotional holiday period across apparel retail.

Following management's presentation at this year's ICR conference and their discussion about what the average Boot Barn customer looks like (slide 9), we looked at three Boot Barn locations varying from California to Texas to North Dakota, and it proved customers can’t get enough Western Wear, especially as a Christmas gift under the tree. The San Antonio location is a powerhouse, and after a COVID-induced dip in 2020, it came back  stronger than ever in 2021 and 2022.  The Torrance location, which one wouldn’t necessarily consider the heart of cowboy country, has only been open since the latter half of 2022 and has already seen a surge in visitors (and likely benefits from the chain's updated 12K square foot store model).

One interesting aspect of Boot Barn to note is the diversity of the clientele it attracts. In North Dakota, it appeals to Blue Collar Suburbs, Small Town Low Income, and Young Urban singles (using PersonaLive profiles).  In Southern California, customers over-index for Near Urban Diverse Families, Lower Hispanic Families, Urban Low Income, and Educated Urbanites.  Meanwhile in Texas, top segments include Lower Hispanic Families, Near Urban Diverse Families, and Young Urban Singles.

When it comes to behaviors and attitudes, North Dakotans are most likely to say it’s classic fashion that doesn’t go out of style. Californians choose Boot Barn because it’s seen as comfortable, they’re loyal to the brand, and it makes them look young.  Texans wear it in order to dress to impress and stay trendy.  The irony of Boot Barn’s appeal is that very few people in any of the markets consider themselves to be foremost “Cowboy Style.”  Instead, Boot Barn has struck just the right balance of being Western-inspired, youthful, and on-trend.

Much like Yeti’s appeal by focusing on its original core customer (the rugged outdoorsman), Boot Barn has also expanded its customer appeal from its original customer, while remaining true to its roots and vision. In the past, Boot Barn’s traditional customers were people who worked on a ranch, attended rodeos and “lived in a very much outdoor environment,” said CEO Jim Conroy.

More recently, Conroy said Boot Barn has worked to capture “what we call a casual western or country customer,” he said. That customer may not wear a cowboy hat, he said, but they may wear jeans and cowboy boots while attending a country music concert.

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Caroline Wu

Director of Research,

Caroline is an experienced insights and intelligence professional who combines brand and business strategy to achieve market leadership. Specializing in retail, CRE, entertainment, media, CPG, and tourism, she takes a multi-disciplinary approach to synthesize broad datasets into actionable recommendations for growth.

She has held various senior positions including US Director of Consumer Insights at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, VP/Head of Retail Insights and Intelligence at Omnicom, and Senior Director at Kantar.  Earlier in her career she was a brand strategy consultant at Prophet, and has also worked client side in research and insights at 20th Century Fox and National Geographic.

Caroline holds an MA in Sociology from Stanford University and a BA in International Relations from Stanford University.

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