This study aimed to determine the potential of packaging to strengthen brand equity in female apparel retail stores. A field experiment was conducted in the Tshwane metropolitan - a key political, economic and urban area in South Africa - to investigate the potential of packaging to be acknowledged as an additional element of the marketing mix in terms of its influence on consumers’ perceptions of the service offering of retailers and their brand equity. The study was done in the context of an emerging economy, where international clothing brands have infiltrated the market and become widely accessible in recent years. The data was collected by using convenience sampling methods, and the self-completion of a structured questionnaire after respondents acted as mystery shoppers at a Single Brand Retailer (SBR) and a Department Store (DS) that carry the same footwear brand in a major shopping centre in this metropolitan. The SBR offers consumers a branded high quality canvas tote bag after purchase, whereas the DS offers a generic plastic bag irrespective of the type of purchase or the price paid. Willing females, all final year students at the University of Pretoria (n =103) were divided in two groups. Individuals visited the two retailers according to a schedule compiled by the researcher. One group visited the SBR first, followed by the DS. The other group did the task in the reverse order. Data analysis involved descriptive statistics, exploratory factor analysis, specifically Principle Component analysis using PROMAX and PROCRUSTES rotation for the two scales that investigated the service offering and brand equity respectively, Means, Standard deviations, Cronbach’s Alpha as well as paired and non-paired 2-tailed t-tests. This study confirmed the potential of secondary packaging as an independent element of the marketing mix in the branded clothing retail industry. The packaging construct dissociated it from the construct ‘Product’ as the literature suggests, which confirms that marketing elements adapt over time and that these changes have to be acknowledged in retail. Respondents generally had a less favourable instore experience in the DS compared to the SBR. The packaging format of SBR was also evaluated more favourably, which enhanced perceptions of the overall service offering. This suggests that respondents’ less favourable evaluation of the less prestigious packaging offered in the DS, is partly to blame for the lower overall evaluations of the service offering of the DS. Packaging also contributed/enhanced brand equity as consumers’ perceptions of the packaging formats – irrespective of whether it was a SBR or a DS – positively contributed to consumers’ perceptions of the brand equity of the retailers that they visited. The contribution of packaging towards brand equity was mostly more prominent than the contribution of other marketing elements such Advertising and Promotion. An order effect was noted. Respondents who visited the DS first, were significantly more impressed with the SBR. Those who went to the SBR first, seemed more forgiving and evaluated the service offering and the brand equity lower compared to the SBR but nevertheless evaluated it more favourably than the group that patronized the DS first. Packaging does not seem to relieve post purchase regret. Respondents were more regretful after their SBR experience. Several explanations may be used to explain this and future studies are envisaged to expand the findings.