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Fashion Accessories Market Research & Business Solutions

From handbags to sunglasses, luggage to diaper bags, keychains to lipstick cases, The NPD Group knows what accessories are selling, where they’re selling best, and who is doing the buying.

Because we collect information from more than 1,300 retailers, including both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar, and field 12 million consumer surveys each year, The NPD Group is recognized by the industry, the media, and others as the leading source of research and solutions for the fashion accessories markets.

We take our robust data and industry expertise and combine it with your data or third-party data to address your business issues, from opportunity identification to program evaluation.

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Fashion Accessories
Solutions


Retail Tracking

Track sales of accessories in department stores and national chains. The NPD Group delivers the most detailed point-of-sale (POS) information available in the accessories industry to guide your critical business decisions.


Consumer Tracking

Understand who is buying accessories, and how, why, and where they are shopping. Based on market research information straight from consumers, the service delivers an unmatched view across all retail channels in the U.S. In Canada, the Consumer Tracking Service focuses on apparel.


Account Level Reports

These reports enable retailers who choose this option to share their information with approved vendors, allowing vendors to analyze business performance at specific retailers down to the item level in many instances. By making this report available to their vendors, retailers can work together with them to optimize performance. These reports may only be made available with the express permission of the retailer.


Checkout

Checkout is the gold standard consumer receipt panel for tracking and analyzing consumer behavior across general merchandise and foodservice. We offer the most robust e-commerce data plus tailored analytics to help you keep current customers and win new ones.


Analytic Solutions

NPD’s Analytic Solutions group includes senior leaders with extensive experience developing and delivering analytic solutions that help clients predict areas of risk and growth to improve marketing and product development. By combining NPD’s unique data assets and industry expertise with state-of-the-discipline research techniques and proprietary solutions, our Analytic Solutions team is able to answer clients’ most pressing business questions.



Fashion Accessories
Reports


A New Look at Luxury Consumers

Our Luxury team is focused on providing your industry’s best resources for understanding the luxury market and its consumers. You can take advantage of their industry expertise and our retail tracking data with the new Luxury Reporting Series. It details today’s U.S. luxury consumer and explores market dynamics.


The Fashion & Accessories Shopper Review

Consumers are traveling in record numbers, and with that kind of growth comes increased opportunity to create new marketing strategies that target shoppers while they’re at the airport. The Travel Retail Reporting Series gives you an in-depth look at today’s travel retail consumer.

Learn more


Women's Fashion Bags Monthly Snapshot Report

This report combines our retail point-of-sale information with Stylitics reporting on the ClosetSpace app. Pinpoint the latest trends and emerging areas of growth in the handbag market. Learn which items to keep an eye on – and get expert analysis on what the trends really mean.

Learn more



Fashion Accessories
Press Releases


January 30, 2019

Luxury Fashion Spending Is On The Rise Online, Reports NPD


December 6, 2018

Fashion Accessory Rebound Driven By Changing Consumer Priorities, Reports NPD

Double-digit sales gains in backpacks, fanny/waist packs, and luggage signal a shift in industry trends.


September 18, 2018

Women’s Jeans Sales Are Up in the U.S. Proving That Athleisure Wear and Denim Do Co-Exist in the Same Wardrobe


June 21, 2018

NPD’s Lori Monaco Receives President’s Award at 22nd Annual ACE Awards

he NPD Group’s President of Fashion Footwear, Accessories, Watches and Luxury, Lori Monaco, was honored with the President’s Award at the 22nd annual ACE Awards on June 11, 2018. Hosted by The Accessories Council, the ACE Awards honor individuals and companies who have furthered the awareness and use of accessories.


April 24, 2018

Function and Luxury Come Together to Deliver Growth Opportunities in Fashion Accessories, Reports NPD

Consumers are engaging with fashion accessories, including bags, small personal accessories, and luggage, that deliver functionality, luxury, or both, reports The NPD Group, a leading global information company. Despite overall declines in the nearly $1.8 billion fashion accessories industry, bright spots exist in the most functional and fashion-focused ends of the spectrum, as well as where the two worlds are converging.


April 17, 2017

Shift in Footwear and Accessories Spending Sends Warning Signal for Retail Fashion, Reports NPD

The three key components of the $334 billion retail fashion segment, apparel, footwear, and fashion accessories, are each in different positions when it comes to the business, according to leading global information company The NPD Group. The apparel industry, which represents 65 percent of total U.S. retail fashion dollar sales and spans everything from basics to jeans, continues to enjoy the consistent growth experienced over the past few years. Conversely, the more trend-driven footwear and fashion accessories industries are now experiencing sales declines, keeping overall retail fashion sales in the 12 months ending February 2017 even with results from the prior year.


December 12, 2016

Small Money Accessories Cash in on Small Handbag Growth, Reports NPD

Sales of smaller size handbags are on the rise and smaller money accessories, like card cases and coin purses, are cashing in on the trend. According to The NPD Group, a leading global information company. Dollar sales of money accessories – other than wallets – increased 13 percent, to almost $23 million in the 12 months ending October 2016.


October 31, 2016

The NPD Group Acquires Brazil Toys Industry Research Provider Sim2m

The NPD Group, a global provider of information and advisory services, today announced that it has acquired Brazil-based Sim2M, a South American leader in market research for the toys industry. The acquisition by NPD’s Brazilian subsidiary, NPD Brasil Market Research Services Ltda., expands NPD’s global footprint, reinforcing its position as the preeminent provider of toys industry market research.


October 31, 2016

Premium Point-and-Shoot Cameras and Instant Print Cameras See Year-Over-Year Growth

In the 12 months ending September 2016, premium point-and-shoot cameras and instant print cameras are two of the categories that have experienced growing dollar sales, as camera makers focus on offering unique products targeted to specific customer needs and interests. According to global information company The NPD Group, sales of premium point-and-shoot cameras (priced above $1,000) have grown 24 percent over the last 12 months (ending September 2016), led by Sony, Fujifilm and Leica. Separately, the resurgence of a retro trend – instant print cameras – has led to an increase of 148 percent in sales during that same period.


October 17, 2016

The Importance of Visible Logos on Handbags is Diminishing, Reports NPD

One-third of the handbags purchased in the U.S. in the 12 months ending June 2016 did not have a visible logo, according to The NPD Group, a leading global information company. The sales of handbags without a visible logo increased their share of the market in the past year, and this is a style trend that is crossing generations.


Fashion Accessories
Insights


January 30, 2019

Industry Disruptors and Brand Storytelling

Distruptors happen in all industries, causing shifts in the way consumers use or access products. Learn about distruptors in footwear, accessories, and watches, including how digital native startups are tapping into consumer desire in footwear and accessories and how smartwatches are affecting the traditional watch category.


January 15, 2019

The Preowned Luxury Consumer

Consumers are starting to realize not everything needs to be new, and it’s impacting retail. Get a fresh look at the preowned luxury market dynamics in watches and handbags.


January 2, 2019

Advice for Retailers in 2019

Today’s marketplace is moving faster than ever before and keeping pace with this change can help you grow your business. Learn what industry experts Beth Goldstein and Reginald Brack think will be important in retail in the year ahead.


December 11, 2018

E-commerce and Direct to Consumer Dynamics

E-commerce is new to the luxury watch industry, while it’s a more mature industry in footwear, accounting for 30% of footwear sales. Learn how retailers are responding as consumers become more accustomed to buying almost everything online.


November 29, 2018

Sustainability in Retail, Fashion, and Watches

Industry analysts Beth Goldstein and Reginald Brack explore sustainability in fashion footwear, accessories and watches. Learn about the latest insights and trends related to sustainable fashion.


November 1, 2018

5 Things Smart Industries Are Doing to Engage Consumers

In this paper, released at Summer Outdoor Retailer, NPD's Industry Advisor Matt Powell looks to growing industries' strategies to fuel the outdoor sports market.


October 17, 2018

E-commerce Trends You Can't Ignore

The emergence of the endless aisle has created stiff competition for brands and retailers trying to win online. Uncover the latest e-commerce trends across fashion, home, and technology. Read on to see how successful brands and retailers are winning by leveraging digital content to engage with consumers.


September 19, 2018

The Rise of Travel Retail

Travel retail is booming. Airport traffic grew 8% globally over the last year, and that growth is predicted to continue, averaging +8% annually through 2026.


August 3, 2018

3 Ways to Foster a Seamless Consumer Experience in the Future

In the future, brands and retailers will adapt to increased consumer demand for more seamless experiences. See how this will impact every aspect of their lives—from the kitchen to the gym.


July 13, 2018

5 Fashion Trends Worth Watching

The U.S. fashion industry is rapidly changing. At the same time, a flurry of factors – including shifts in consumer shopping behavior, retail closures, new celebrity influencers, and today’s macro trends – are having an impact on consumer spending. Here’s a look at 5 fashion trends we’re watching right now.



Fashion Accessories
Insights and Opinions from our Analysts and Experts


January 18, 2019

Fashion Footwear & Accessories: Keeping Up the Momentum in 2019

2018 was an impressive year for the U.S. fashion footwear market, and most accessories categories saw improved sales results. Fashion footwear’s strongest performance in recent years – dollar sales peaked at over $60 billion, with growth in the high single-digits – was driven not only by strength in the sport leisure category, but also by a rebound in sandals and boots, as comfort became almost synonymous with fashion.  Luggage, sunglasses, and small personal accessories were the highlights in accessories, with sales moving into the positive. Consumers’ desire for function and versatility, especially as it relates to travel, helped to propel these businesses in 2018. 

Fashion footwear’s momentum will likely continue, but at a slower pace than 2018, and the accessories market will continue to level out, but persistent challenges will hamper vast improvements. The most significant trends to watch across both of these industries will be somewhat familiar, further solidifying changes that are taking effect.

Athleisure Will Remain Dominant, but Fashion Will Regain Some Share
Slowing growth doesn’t mean a shrinking market. Sport leisure footwear sales will continue to climb, but as the pace of the increase slows, fashion footwear brands have the opportunity to take back some share by incorporating the comfort and style elements that drove consumers to love their athleisure.  This is what drove the fashion space to turn around in 2018.   

Function and Comfort Will Become the Standard
When it comes to their footwear and accessories, consumers have become accustomed to asking, “What have you done for me lately?” Brands that carefully consider their product’s end use and tailor to comfort, versatility, and accessibility will succeed. This may seem extreme, especially for fashion categories, but consumers are placing value on these features and benefits.  

Stores Show Some Promise, but Online Growth Will Continue
While online sales continue to generate most of the dollar growth in fashion footwear, the proportion of growth coming from stores increased throughout 2018. Millennials drove much of this momentum, but it was mostly isolated to branded retailers such as vertical shoe stores and factory outlets, rather than department stores. In accessories, store sales declined in almost every category, while website sales increased just slightly. All of this inconsistency suggests that there is still room for improvement, both online and off, and consumers will be expecting more interaction between the two.

Social and Environmental Consciousness Will Take Center Stage
Forty-one percent of consumers surveyed indicated that eco-friendly/sustainable materials are important when considering their footwear purchases*, and their top social concern is human welfare**. They’ve shown that they will support organizations that take a stand on these types of issues, such as Nike and Patagonia. The success of newer brands such as Allbirds and Rothy’s demonstrates that innovative, sustainable materials and brands with compelling stories are resonating with consumers. These issues will only grow in importance, so footwear and accessories players need to figure out how to participate here, in order to remain relevant to a new generation of consumers.

The new year began with some political and economic uncertainty, which could temper spending across categories. However, brands and retailers that focus their product and marketing strategies around making consumers’ lives better will propel these industries forward in 2019.

 

Source: The NPD Group/ Consumer Tracking Service, January-November 2018
*Source: CivicScience/ June 2018
**Source: The NPD Group/ May 2018 Omnibus



December 5, 2018

Breaking Down Black Friday

In 2017 the 2 weeks of Black Friday/Cyber Monday posted a decline of -3 per cent across the fashion industry in Canada as buying visits (both online and in-store) experienced declines. In an attempt to reverse this trend, this year we saw promotions starting as early as the first week of November. With 3 weeks of promotions leading up to Black Friday I was naturally curious as to how the consumer would react. Friday Morning I headed out to one of Toronto’s busiest malls, Toronto’s CF Eaton Center, to get a glimpse of what Black Friday was about from a consumer perspective.

With an early start I was anticipating large lines and lots of store traffic due to the lack of consumer confidence in online delivery thanks to the postal strike. I was shocked. Parking was a breeze and the mall was questionably relaxing - not a term we would normally use for Black Friday shopping.  After a few hours of walking the mall, speaking to store staff, online browsing, and exploring the shopping streets of Queen West it was clear that there were 4 big takeaways from Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2018.

  • Extended periods of Deep Discounts did not entice the consumer. In fact, this possibly derailed the consumer. Everywhere you looked retailers were fighting for a share of the consumers wallet. One thing I noticed was that the retailers that were extending the same promotion or offering a steeper discount on the already clearance merchandise didn’t have much traffic.  Furthermore, there didn’t seem to be a strong conversion between store visit and sale. Consumers went in, browsed around, and walked out empty handed. I heard from one sales associate that the same discount had been on since Tuesday and consumers were hoping to see a further discount so they held out in buying…only to be disappointed on Black Friday when sizing and product assortment were minimal.
  • Where deep discounts won was in the true spirit of Black Friday where new merchandise was discounted or “it” brands were discounted for the first time of the season. It was also of no surprise that teen girls 13-18 led the charge with shopping for fashion on Black Friday outperforming the market for 2 consecutive years for the months of November/ December. Categories like panties, bras and sleepwear were all the rage as specialty retailers catering to these categories for teen girls 13-18 were crowded and had long cash lineups. And brands that had led the growth in 2018 such as Nike, Lululemon, Levi’s and Roots continued to attract buyers each dominating their hero categories.
  • It wasn’t all just about buying the latest and greatest as the message “if you are going to buy, let it be for the greater good and help make a change” was heard loud and clear. This echoed the trend of values over consumption seen throughout 2018 as brands and retailers are taking a stand and changing the conversation to be more than just about fashion. The act of doing good is not new to the holiday season, as food drives and volunteering have always been heightened at this time of the year. However seeing the fashion industry embrace this seems pleasantly fresh. Cool kid brands such as Kotn, Everlane, and Cuyana, just to name a few, offered variations of donation. Kotn donating 100 per cent of their Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales to help change, Everlane said that all profits from Black Friday sales will be donated up to $150,000 to ocean preservation and Cuyana donating 10 per cent of their Black Friday proceeds to the California Wildfire Relief Funds. I even noticed mass brands such as Old Navy embracing giving back donating up to $1 Million dollars to Boys and Girls Clubs for every $1 per pair sold of cozy socks.
  • In addition to doing good consumers also looked to feeling good, happy and connected. It’s no secret that experiences are all the rage but emotional experiences during the holidays seem to be an untapped opportunity for the fashion industry. One of the longest lines at the Toronto CF Eaton Center was to enter the Google Gingerbread Smart Home, where nothing was actually for sale. When entering the Gingerbread house you got to experience a Google smart home and possibly walk away with either a fresh gingerbread cookie or a Google Home Mini. This had me thinking, what if fashion brands were to interact with the consumers like this and create an emotional connection between the product, brand and life moments? This “warm & cozy” feeling is the reason we continue to see cozy socks, flannel PJs and cashmere sweaters popping up right around this time.

To add on to the experience, Uniqlo was unique this Black Friday, also attracting large crowds and long cash lines. Uniqlo selected Black Friday to launch their limited edition collaboration with street artist KAWS X Sesame Street. Consumers were eager to gain access to limited styles and to become a part of the street artist community. While this launch was at regular price it was a great way to get consumers through the door and checking out the other deals, ultimately adding on to their basket size.

After all my research it was clear that there were some select winners this year, however most retailers didn’t blow it out of the park as they had hoped. We will know more in the coming weeks if buying visits have continued to decline during the 2 weeks of Black Friday/ Cyber Monday but ultimately retailers need to be cautious that they are not losing loyalty and trust among their consumers through the extended promotional period. Experiences and limited merchandise drops and the act giving back might be the secret to reviving fashion during the holiday season for 2018 & 2019.


November 15, 2018

Tis the Season to Accessorize

As we head into this holiday season, I’m happy to report that there is finally momentum in the fashion accessories market. The declines in the accessories business over the past three years have leveled out a bit  - through September, year-over-year trends in all categories have improved, and there are clear bright spots that will carry into the holiday season. 

Status Symbols Endure
The women’s designer bag and small personal accessories market remains on fire, up 17 percent  in the first ten months of 2018*.  This will continue through holiday as the smaller, more “accessible” price point items in this space will be among the most sought after items.  

Hands-Free Versatility Lends a Hand
Fashion backpacks, fanny/waist packs, crossbody bags, and shoulder bags and wallets with convertible straps are helping to offset losses from satchels and totes. Consumers have become very passionate about function, so products with more features and brands that promote ease of use and multi-occasion wear this holiday will stand out as offering value, even at high price points. 

Travel Smart
The luggage business has taken off (pun intended), up 16 percent so far this year.* Consumers are looking for products that make travel easier, and the innovation spanning luggage, bags, and small accessories will propel these products through holiday. Digitally native brands with strong social media presence and storytelling will gain share of both mind and wallet. 

Make it Your Own
The ability to customize and personalize everything from jewelry and bags to luggage and small accessories will attract shoppers looking for unique gifts, and inspire self-gifting among those looking to express their own individuality. Brands and retailers are offering lots of opportunities to accessorize accessories this holiday, both in-store and online. 

Craving Coziness
The Danish trend of hygge has fully caught on in the U.S., promoting comfort and coziness for all.  I expect the cold-weather accessories business will benefit from this, regardless of how cold and snowy the season is.  

 

Source: The NPD Group/Consumer Tracking Service
*Source:   The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service, January-October 2018



July 23, 2018

Luggage Takes Flight

I travel a lot, but I haven’t bought a new suitcase in about ten years.  I’m sure I’m in good company, which is clearly a problem for luggage sellers. Luggage has historically been a sleepy market, but now it has become a growth business, and one of the most interesting accessories categories that we follow at NPD. 

Consumers traveling in record numbers – according to the U.S. Travel Association, domestic and foreign airlines servicing the U.S. carried 965 billion passengers in 2017, up +3.4% from 2016. But, as I’ve noted in prior articles, they’ve also learned to appreciate and require function in many of the products they use daily, including bags and luggage. The popularity of travel and the desire for functional items that make travel easier has driven a six percent increase in luggage dollar sales during the 12 months ending May 2018, compared to a two percent decline in sales of bags.* 

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the luggage growth over the past year is that almost 80 percent of the incremental dollars were generated online. Online luggage sales grew 20 percent last year, on top of 15 percent growth the year before, making it the fastest growing accessories category online for both years.* Brands and retailers are leveraging their websites and social media to promote travel, as well the features and benefits of their products, and doing so in great detail. (I can’t get enough of the Instagram videos that show in time-lapse fashion where to place every item you could possibly bring with you.)  Ebags, the number seven luggage retailer overall, and number two online,* has a Travel Center with a Luggage Buying Guide, as well as travel guides and tips from its Ambassadors.

A number of online luggage start-ups have also emerged, all with great stories to tell, claiming they’ve designed the perfect carry-on.  Although they have driven innovation and newness in the category, it hasn’t been all rosy for these new digitally native luggage start-ups. Two of the more prominent entrants, which focused on their smart-technologies like device charging, weight measurement, and bag tracking, have folded due to airline restrictions and confusion surrounding built-in lithium-ion batteries. And recently, the New York Times’ Wirecutter review site suggested that outfitting non-smart luggage with a few tech accessories was a more cost-effective and hassle-free option than buying a smart carry-on.**

Despite the boom in travel and consumers’ interest in functional products (two phenomena which are likely to continue), luggage will remain a low purchase frequency category over the long-term.  However, continued innovation will help to shorten the purchase cycle, as will marketing strategies that target new generations of travelers. The most important thing that brands and retailers need to remember is that they aren’t just selling suitcases – they are selling the travel experience and products that enhance that experience. They’ll need to expand their product lines, within reason, to incorporate complementary products, like travel accessories, travel-oriented footwear, and even an experiential or service component like travel recommendations and trip planning assistance. Away, a travel upstart, is still in the game because they recognize that they are in the travel business, not the luggage business.  Rather than highlighting a feature or item, Away’s messaging focuses on how their products can make being away easier.

As we all know, traveling is stressful.  Brands and retailers that aim to make it a little less so will be able to sustain a healthy business in the long run.  In fact, I’m sold – time for a new carry-on.

 

*The NPD Group/Consumer Tracking Service, 12 ME May ‘18

**https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/27/travel/tech-devices-luggage.html



April 18, 2018

Welcome to the neighborhood Nordstrom Rack

It’s been quite some time since Nordstrom announced that they were going to be opening their first Nordstrom Rack store in Canada; and since then, there has been significant buzz around when this was going to happen. Well a few weeks ago the doors to the first location at Vaughan Mills Mall finally opened and with all the anticipation and buzz, I decided to go check it out for myself.

The first question I keep getting asked is why did it take so long and why do you think there was such a delay. As we have seen with most successful retail imports, slow and steady seems to win the race. However, it was interesting to me that Nordstrom went ahead and expanded their regular banner stores before opening their off-price banner - kind of the opposite strategy that we had seen with Saks Fifth Avenue. This is made even more interesting by the fact that the off-price channel in Canada was the fastest growing channel in 2017 and continued to outperform the market growing +12 per cent from last year.

After visiting the first Nordstrom Rack store it became obvious that this was done with a very strategic approach and every detail of the opening was thought out in an effort to ensure that the Rack would be successful and the buzz would not fade. Here are a few insights I took away from my visit:

  1. There was clearly a strategic decision here to use the regular Nordstrom stores as the branding vehicle. Essentially keeping the essence of the Nordstrom brand intact while offering discounted options. Nordstrom had brought a certain “cool” factor and younger energy to the Canadian landscape that had been missing and using that voice in the off-price space would fill that void that the channel has been lacking. This would also help acquire a stronger presence with the Millennial consumer as off-price is under indexed in the only generation cohort that posted In-store growth from a year ago.
  2. The level of transparency in labeling was fascinating but also so needed in the off-price space. At Nordstrom Rack everything was clearly labeled without any hidden agendas, such as “Designer Shoes” and “From Our Nordstrom Stores”. To me this removed the disarray out of the hunt and created a guided shopping experience.
  3. A major difference between Canada and the US is that Canada is specialty focused with over 50 per cent of apparel dollar sales traced to specialty stores vs. only 25 per cent in the US. Nordstrom Rack really played into this by merchandising by commodity not department as each key commodity was labeled and merchandised so it was very easy to shop.  This really engages the way Canadians shops.

The second question I get asked is there room for another off-price player in the Canadian landscape, isn’t this space already crowded?

If we look at the US, 12 per cent of the apparel dollar sales are traced to off-price where in Canada only it’s only 7 per cent - that’s a 3pt. gap of opportunity. And to take that further in Canada 93 per cent of the off-price channel sales are traced to 2 major players where in the US 95 per cent of the off-price channel sales are traced to 7 retailers.

So whether this increases competition, thereby driving market growth, or opens the door for the channel expansion, one thing is for certain – the Canadian market does in fact have room for more off price players.

So welcome to the Great White North, Nordstrom Rack!


March 26, 2018

The March Four’easter

I really wish I came up with that simple yet clever term, but the credit goes to a New York Times columnist, writing about the fourth snowstorm to hit the Northeast in March, which arrived after the official start of spring. Now of course no one is under any illusion that come March 20 it will, all of a sudden, be sandal weather, but 12 to 18 inches of snow post-vernal equinox does seem a bit excessive. 

A week or so ago, on the day of the third Nor’easter of the month, I noted the number of promotional emails related to spring in my inbox: “Spring is just one week away!”  “New season, new styles!”  “Warmer days ahead!”  It was like someone clearly missed the memo.  A few days before that (just after the second storm in March), I walked by a prominent independent shoe store in my neighborhood and saw a letter paper-sized printed sign in the window that read “WE HAVE BOOTS!” The window was full of sandals, so the sign was needed, or else someone looking for boots might have just kept walking.  

Clearly the footwear (and broader retail) industry is still challenged to adapt the flow of product.  Industry players have talked at length about the fact that the retail calendar does not align with the actual seasons, nor with the mindsets of consumers as they look to “buy now, wear now.”  Since I’m on the topic of snow, it’s worth pointing out that dollar and unit sales of winter/snow boots have declined by 10-15 percent during each of the past two boot seasons*.  But, while we don’t have March 2018 results yet (as it is still more than a week away from month-end as I write this), looking back at March dollar and unit sales for 2016 and 2017 reveals small dollar volume, but double-digit growth each year. This suggests that consumers have an increasing appetite for this type of product in March, whether it be out of actual need or just acting opportunistically, taking advantage of post-season clearance sales (which are apparent given the rapid deterioration of price points versus earlier in the season).  Not surprisingly, the top growth designated market areas (DMAs) for winter/snow boots in March for the past two years combined are New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Boston.**

So you know the saying “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb?” Well, that lion seems to be hanging around a bit longer these days, so perhaps there is some opportunity for brands and retailers to take advantage.  In addition to the spring email marketing I received on the day of a snowstorm, I have been pleased to see a few other messages over the last week that recognize the fact that it is still cold and snowy in the Northeast, promoting the appropriate products. But, what if we took it one step further? With seasons blurring together and late winter/early spring seemingly colder and snowier than ever, February/March could be a good time to release a limited quantity of new snow boot styles scheduled for full launch during the upcoming fall/winter. This newness and limited supply could potentially entice consumers who have not yet bought a new pair to do so, and/or create demand for the full launch later in the year.

 

*The NPD Group/ Retail Tracking Service, 6 months ending February 2018 and 2017
**The NPD Group/ Retail Tracking Service, March 2017 and 2016



January 18, 2018

2018’s Three C’s of Fashion Footwear & Accessories

Fashion footwear and accessories players are looking for opportunity in 2018, following a soft 2017. I expect fashion footwear sales in the U.S. to improve slightly and fashion accessories, such as bags and jewelry, to contract a bit more. But, there are and will continue to be successes in both markets if brands and retailers focus on comfort, convenience, and curation.

Comfort
Comfort is not just an added benefit anymore – it’s a necessity. Consumers have grown accustomed to wearing activewear and sneakers, and they don’t want to give up that comfort when they are wearing boots or dress shoes. Closing out 2017, the women’s active/leisure and comfort brand segments together grew seven percent in an overall flat women’s fashion footwear market.  In addition, women’s designer continues to be a key growth area – led by sneakers, as well as fashion boots and mules with low-mid heels.  And, particularly in the men’s space, the bridge segment is being driven by brands that have incorporated athletic and comfort elements into their dress and casual styles. This momentum in sport leisure and comfort will continue into 2018.

In accessories, the idea of comfort has manifested itself in the growth of backpacks for adult wearers over the age of 25, particularly for work and travel (or anytime).* In 2018, we will see more convertible styles, and new entrants into the market will steal share as the major players in the bag market fall behind in terms of innovation. 

Convenience
Function and versatility is top of mind (think Instant Pot!). Similar to their housewares and technology, consumers are also looking for their footwear and accessories to do more than one thing, or to perform in a variety of conditions. Consumers will place value on features such as weatherproofing, ability to style multiple ways (i.e. adjust the boot shaft height or straps), and year-round relevance.

Bags, luggage, and small personal accessories must meet the demands of busy lifestyles, offering fashion along with functional elements – lightweight materials, multiple straps to keep hands free, and pockets to organize tech and other daily essentials are the kinds of features consumers will be seeking.  The designer market will not be immune to these demands.

Curation
Expect tighter assortments. Retailers are looking to keep demand high and inventories under control.   Personalization options will increase in footwear, bags, and jewelry. But, on the opposite end of the spectrum, direct-to-consumer start-ups like Allbirds, Rothy’s, and Away offer very focused selections of feature-rich products, meant to appeal to broad target audiences by solving problems that they didn’t even know they had.  More established brands need to sharpen their stories. 

In 2018, consumers will be asking, “What have you done for me lately?” And in response, footwear and accessories brands and retailers must be thinking about how their products will fit into and enhance everyday life. Messaging and shopping experiences that address this focus will be critical. Consumers are willing to spend, but they want their dollars to go further. If you can demonstrate more than one of the three C’s, you’ll be on track to take share.

 

The NPD Group / Retail Tracking Service, 3 months ending  December 2017
*The NPD Group / Consumer Tracking Service, 6 months ending December 2017



January 15, 2018

Pack Your Bags – Adventure Awaits

We have been hearing the drumbeat for some time…  We are in search of meaningful experiences and, as consumers, we are now comfortable trading our spending on material acquisition for the intangible.  As conspicuous consumption falls by the wayside, we increasingly look to acquire memories that include personal connections and meaningful experiences. According to NPD’s 2017 Holiday Purchase Intentions Study, 39 percent of U.S. consumers plan to give intangible, or experiential, gifts this holiday season. Of those consumers, 23 percent plan to purchase a gift to be used for travel.

CiR has found that the Americans have been expanding their horizons with growth in international travel (up 7 percent in the 12 months ending September 2017).  According to NPD’s Consumer Tracking Service, luggage is one of the healthiest fashion categories, showing double digit growth this past year.  Boomers remain the largest generational segment and CiR finds that those ages 45 ages up represent 56 percent of all U.S. international travelers. However, Millennials are catching up with a 19 percent growth rate – they now represent 27 percent of all dollars spent on luggage.  Not to be overlooked, Gen X’s purchasing is sizable as well; growing 13 percent from last year and representing 22 percent of total category dollars. We all seem to be ‘on the go’! 

New brands are popping up to address this wanderlust consumer. Luggage pioneers are exploring new ways to enable successful travel. Away.com (Awaytravel.com) offers luggage and travel accessories for the “thoughtful traveler”. Raden (https://www.raden.com/) provides fully tech-enabled functionality from weight sensors to removable built-in phone chargers that connect seamlessly to their mobile app. G-Ro (https://g-ro.com/) has designed luggage with large rugged wheels that can take even the most daunting curb with one pass. Modobags ( http://modobag.com/) has launched a motorized suitcase that scoots you along those long and tedious walks to the gate – “The carry-on that carries you” can start your trip with a smile. 

Designer brands are also tossing their hat into the travel ring with expert partnerships. Globe-Trotter and Tiffany & Co. have partnered, offering consumers a limited-edition luggage collection which boasts the brand's iconic 'Tiffany Blue' packaging, while Italian fashion house Fendi produced its first line of elegant hard case luggage with Fendi branded Cuoio Romano leather handles, created in collaboration with Rimowa.

Having just come back from the heart of India, I can attest to the need to streamline my packing.  Traveling light and efficiently allows you to leave plenty of room for exotic purchases, and don’t forget to throw in a collapsible nylon bag for any of the overflow, just in case you cannot live without a bit of consumption.



October 4, 2017

Footwear: The New Fast Fashion

Sneakers! Mules! Over the Knee Boots! Ankle Booties! Over the past few years it seems that every fashion conversation starts and ends with footwear. Today we build our wardrobe around what we have on our feet so it’s no surprise that specialty apparel retailers have taken note and have added footwear to their assortment.

Footwear in Canada is outperforming and growing 3X faster than the apparel industry. So when growth is being sought out, it seems like a natural approach to expand into footwear.

The thing is, the footwear market is evolving faster than the apparel Industry and the growth is being driven by consumer demand and a growing tendency to “see now, buy now”. Footwear is now about how fast can you produce the must have shoe that was just seen on the runways or on the top coveted influencer.  A movement that was coined “fast fashion” in the apparel industry has hit the footwear industry. This “fast fashion” is the outcome of consumer demand and is driven by the expectation of having what they want when they want it.

In today’s footwear market, if you missed the shoe of the season you might have missed the season, and catching the trend at the tail end of the cycle can result in big markdowns, or the dreaded look of being stale and passé.

This past August I walked the FN PLATRFORM show in Las Vegas, scouting what the brands had to offer and what occurred was every brand had the same 4 styles: the minimalist sneaker, the slide, the mule and the open toe ankle bootie.

And for those stand out brands that were showing something new and were keeping up with what the “influencers” were wearing…I wanted it right now! Traditionally the footwear that was being shown in August at Platform would only hit the stores in the spring. So how fast does fast footwear need to be to keep up with consumer demand? And why is the industry working on a cycle that is behind the cycle demanded by the consumer?

If these traditional footwear manufacturers cannot keep up with demand, then the apparel specialty stores might just be able to steal some of the share.



July 10, 2017

Branded Logo Tees - The New “It Thing”?

Fashion trends are a funny thing. Whether it’s mom jeans or bomber jackets, rompers or Birkenstock’s, you never quite know what the next “in thing” will be.

Well earlier this week as I was on my way to the office I caught a glimpse of something that caught my eye…a young, hip looking guy was sporting trendy jeans and a pair of Stan Smiths with a tee adorned with a large Levi’s logo. The same day on my way home from the office I noticed yet another young gentleman wearing the exact same tee as he peddled his fixie around town. Coincidence? I think not.

Intrigued, I decided to take to social media to see if I could find any more proof of this new “it thing”. As I scrolled through my Instagram feed, I noticed something rather “fresh”, or for those of us that have already lived through it before shall we say “old school”. Right before my eyes I was seeing dozens of posts featuring young, hip girls and guys sporting unisex heritage branded tees with large logos.

Interestingly, it seems NPD data supports my observation. In Canada, within the new millennial category (aged 21-33) branded logo tees grew 3 times faster than basic tees in the first 5 months of the year. And with this segment being the only segment posting growth in the non-active market (year to date), it’s no wonder that brands and retailers are taking action and wanting a piece of the pie.

For example, in honor of Canada 150, Club Monaco launched the #ClubThrowback collection which was a collection of basic tees and sweats featuring their vintage heritage logo, available exclusively and limited to some Canadian Brick and Mortar stores. Another example is the Canadian retailer Simons that has the exclusive for Canada with the 80’s brand Vuarnet, and we cannot forget beloved 90’s brands like Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger that are the natural choice for these branded logo tees. 

It seems that both my observations and the data confirm that Norm Core is in full effect! Now it’s time for me to go out and buy a full-size logo tee to add to my wardrobe.


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