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Apparel Market Research & Business Solutions

No other industry changes as rapidly as fashion. What’s hot today is blasé tomorrow. Innovation becomes retro. Seasons change. Hemlines rise and fall ... and so do your sales figures. A celebrity makes a fashion statement on the red carpet and suddenly your financial statements are covered in red.

How do companies in the fashion and apparel industry win in such an environment? The apparel, footwear, and accessories markets have depended upon The NPD Group for fashion market research and solutions for decades. Leading brands rely on us for comprehensive information and analysis about consumer spending and shopping behavior plus customized solutions that drive better business decisions.

How do we do it?  We collect information from more than 1,300 retailers, including both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar, field 12 million consumer surveys each year, and mine the receipts of millions of consumers—to tell our clients what, where, and why people are buying.  We bring those robust data assets along with our industry expertise and combine it with your data or third-party data to address your business issues, from opportunity identification to program evaluation.

Get answers to these important questions and others standing in your way:

  • How are factors like distribution, pricing, assortment, and seasonality affecting my sales?
  • Which emerging fashion industry trends should I be aware of to influence product development?
  • How am I doing compared to my fashion market competitors in-store and online.
  • How is my business trending relative to apparel industry trends?
  • Which brands are winning in my category, and who is the fastest growing?
  • Who is buying my product, and what else is he/she buying, where else does he/she shop?


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Apparel
Solutions


Retail Tracking

Monitor sales of men’s, women’s, and children’s apparel in department stores, specialty stores, and national chains. You also can use this service to track sales of women’s accessories in department stores and national chains. It delivers the most detailed point-of-sale (POS) information available for the fashion industry to guide your critical business decisions.


Consumer Tracking

Understand who is buying apparel and accessories, and how, why, and where they are shopping. Based on market research information from nearly 2 million 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 delivers the most comprehensive view of consumer purchase behavior for general merchandise categories, across all retailers over time, to help you understand how to adjust your marketing to fuel growth. Checkout E-commerce offers the most complete and accurate view of the online channel – including first and third-party sales for Amazon and other marketplaces, 400+ e-commerce retailers including direct-to-consumer, and  an early read on emerging players.


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.


New Product Forecasting

A better way to assess and improve sales potential of products and services before launch. If you’ve got new products in the pipeline or plans to reinvigorate the ones you’re selling now, there’s a proven approach to determine whether it will meet your goals. The NPD Group’s pre-market sales forecasting service, part of its Analytic Services portfolio, can help you assess and improve the sales potential of new or revamped products and services before you launch them. Through point-of-sale and consumer databases, NPD can catalogue how hundreds of thousands of new and revamped products perform after launch in multiple industries. This input is unique to NPD; it serves as the ideal benchmark and basis for calibrating, validating, and refining sales forecasts. It’s how to reduce the risk of investing in ideas that will not meet your sales objectives and focus your investment on your strongest concepts.



Apparel
Reports


Predicting Apparel's Future

The Future of Apparel report goes into consumers' mindsets and motivations to show you what’s ahead. It features deep consumer insight, plus analyst commentary on growth opportunities in the apparel categories and retail channels that matter to your business. It’s how to make long-range, data-driven decisions and win in the future.


Track Industry Performance Across All Fashion Categories

Trend Tracker is a new and intuitive site that tracks and helps you understand fashion trends. You get an up-to-the-moment pulse on the fashion industry, and we can tell you what it means for you and your business.


Seasonal Style Snapshot: Back-To-School 2017

The U.S. apparel industry captured the most dollars during the 2016 back-to-school (BTS) season, edging in front of school supplies. As consumers prioritize their purchases, will apparel remain the lead dog for share of spend for BTS 2017? Here’s what we will keep a close eye on in the coming months.



Apparel
Press Releases


February 21, 2018

Millennials, Athleisure, and E-commerce Continue to Drive Apparel Sales, But Growth Has Slowed

Millennials, athleisure, and ecommerce continue to be the brightest spots in the U.S. apparel industry, though they lost some of their intensity in 2017, reports The NPD Group, a leading global information company. This slowed momentum among the industry’s key sales drivers, combined with declines in other segments, resulted in $215 billion in U.S. apparel sales in 2017, a 2 percent decline in from 2016.


January 30, 2018

More U.S. Apparel Consumers are Opting for Online When it Comes to Outerwear Purchases, Reports NPD’s Checkout

According to The NPD Group’s Checkout, a receipt mining service, close to one-third (29 percent) of total online apparel buyers purchased outerwear online in the 12 months ending November 2017.


July 31, 2017

Apparel Consumers Are Subscribing to a New Way of Shopping, Reports NPD

Apparel subscription services, like Stitch Fix and Trunk Club, and introduction of Amazon’s Prime Wardrobe, are examples of the hottest new shopping channel in the swiftly evolving $217.6 billion U.S. apparel market*, reports The NPD Group, a leading global information company. The apparel market’s evolution is evidenced by the fact that both Amazon and the apparel subscription service, Stitch Fix, were among the top 10 retailers last year in terms of online apparel wallet share, according to NPD’s online receipt mining service, Checkout TrackingSM E-commerce.


June 22, 2017

The NPD Group’s New Trend Tracker Product Delivers New View of Apparel Trends

Global information company The NPD Group has launched Trend Tracker, a new microsite designed to help clients track and understand apparel trends. The NPD Group’s Trend Tracker provides access to data dashboards, insight reports, curated news, and industry analyst expertise, highlighting the sales performance of major fashion trends in the apparel industry.


June 19, 2017

The Tried-and-True Matters, But Innovation is Essential to Denim’s Bottom Line, Reports NPD

The $13.5 billion U.S. women’s and men’s jeans market has rebounded from recent challenging times, growing sales 4 percent in 2016*, according to leading global information company The NPD Group. The latest styles and older standards (or models) both play an important role, and the respective roles of the two groups showcase how differently women and men shop for jeans.


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.


September 26, 2016

Loyalty Drives Victoria’s Secret Dominance in the Intimates Market, According to a New Report from The NPD Group

Victoria’s Secret is attracting a loyal consumer who shops frequently, and spends more than the average intimates consumer, according to The NPD Group, a leading global information company. Over a quarter of in-store and online intimate apparel buyers purchase bras or panties from Victoria’s Secret, according to the new Victoria’s Secret Playbook report, based on analysis from NPD’s receipt mining service, Checkout Tracking℠. The new report examines the purchase behaviors of this major player in the intimate apparel market, uncovering the factors that contribute to their dominance.


July 14, 2016

Two-Thirds of All Retail Shoppers Shop Off-Price, Reports NPD Group

Consumers who purchase at off-price retail outlets are a growing group, reports The NPD Group, a leading global information company. Now representing two-thirds of all consumers, off-price buyers are also hardcore apparel purchasers and represent 75 percent of apparel purchases across all retail channels, according to NPD’s receipt mining service, Checkout Trackingsm. Not a particularly loyal group, off-price apparel buyers shop at multiple off-price retailers as well as other retail outlets.


June 6, 2016

Sports Bras are a Staple of Millennials’ Bra Wardrobe, Reports NPD

Sports bras are the go-to bra for Millennials. With sizing ease and long-term comfort top-of-mind, Millennials start their bra wardrobe with sports bras and these seamless, activewear bras remain a wardrobe staple. While 41 percent of Millennials said they wore a sports bra in the past seven days, that number was much lower, just 21 percent, among non-Millennial women, according to the 2015 Bra Journey Insights report from global information company The NPD Group.


March 31, 2016

The Number of Teens Buying Plus-Size Clothing Has Nearly Doubled Since 2012, Reports NPD

Teenage females in the U.S. are changing when it comes to the types of clothing sizes they are purchasing, according to the 2015 Women’s Special Sizes Study from global information company The NPD Group. While there has been a sizeable decline among U.S. teens purchasing in the junior size category – from 81 percent in 2012, to 73 percent in 2015 – the percentage of those purchasing plus-size clothing has grown almost two-fold – now 34 percent, compared to 19 percent in 2012.


Apparel
Insights


October 19, 2017

Back-to-School 2017 by the Numbers

The back-to-school season now includes more options for the consumer than ever before. We took a look at how U.S. consumers shopped for back-to-school products in 2017 to help you plan for the 2018 season.


September 15, 2017

Back-To-School Shopping — Not a One-Stop Occasion

The back-to-school season isn't about one-stop shopping anymore. Find out what it is about these days.


July 17, 2017

The Secret to Success in Today’s Apparel Market

It’s 2017, but real income is comparable to 2007 levels. Discretionary spending is down. What do you need to know to get ahead in the apparel market?


June 15, 2017

Back-to-School Shopping: Looking Back to See Ahead

The back-to-school season is the second largest retail shopping season. To gauge what’s to come this year, we looked back on last year’s back-to-school shopping behavior


February 17, 2017

Millennials May Do More With Less, But Not When It Comes To Online Shopping

Millennials in the U.S. are known to be frugal — they’re careful about where and how they spend their limited income. And while they shop more frequently at brick-and-mortar retailers, they spend more when they shop online


November 10, 2016

New Product Forecasting: How a Manufacturer Launch a New Bra

Our client, a lingerie manufacturer, wanted to launch a new bra to stay ahead of trends, but its new product success rate was in decline. Our client started planning a new bra – comfortable and feminine. But . . . what would set the new bra apart from its many competitors? How could the client determine its likelihood of success in this category? The client wanted to be more analytical in its concept testing and turned to NPD for help.


August 30, 2016

How NPD’s New Checkout Tracking Solution Helped One Brand Expand Its Retailer Presence

The apparel market is changing fast - use real-time data to stay ahead of the competition and give your brand a winning advantage.


August 30, 2016

Three Things You Didn't Know About the Victoria's Secret Shopper

The Victoria’s Secret (VS) shopper is worth knowing. She’s loyal, she shops frequently, and she’s willing to spend more than total intimates consumers.


August 26, 2016

Custom Analytic Reporting: How a Leading Apparel Manufacturer Expanded a $49 Million Business

Retail success demands that manufacturers be at the forefront of what’s new, cool, and exciting to shoppers. If a retail buyer decides a particular product or brand is unlikely to fly off the shelves, the decision can cost an unsuspecting manufacturer significant business. Sometimes, it can cost the entire business . . .


March 3, 2016

Winning Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers With the Five Ws

Every journalist and student in America knows the so-called five Ws: who, what, when, where, and why. It turns out the same five Ws are also the most basic forms of consumer segmentation.



Apparel
Insights and Opinions from our Analysts and Experts


January 19, 2018

Apparel’s Just Gotta Have Fun in 2018

When a new year arrives, I start to think of the things I’d like to do differently from the last. Oddly enough, each year, the same three things keep reappearing on my list; read more, cook more and travel more.  I should also stress that the words “for fun” should be added to the ends of each of these statements as there was still reading, cooking and traveling that took place but it was rarely for entertainment purposes.

The new year also has me thinking about what’s in store for apparel in 2018.  Similar to my personal list, adding “for fun” also seems relevant.  With consumers being selective on where they are allocating their spending and their desire to invest in making memories, 2018 is the time for apparel to jump on the experience or should I say “fun” bandwagon.

Here are three areas where the concept of “fun” will impact apparel for 2018.

Increasing Foot Traffic:
As online continues to steal dollars from in-store, 2018 will be the year for these platforms to align in regards to promotions and excitement.  Consumers look online for better deals but with retailers looking to increase in-store foot traffic, along with impulse purchasing, these incentives need to better align to reach the omnipresent consumer.  Building an entertaining experience by ways of in-store events, sales support and overall social gatherings will continue to give consumers the incentive to break away from their screens and join in on the fun.

Increasing Product Innovation:
Three out of five apparel shoppers are indifferent about the current apparel offerings.  With only eleven percent* feeling excited about today’s apparel there is a need for some disruption within this industry.  Increasing color assortment will no longer cut it. Being unique and personal are a must for today’s “get to know the real me” consumer mindset.  Technology coupled with a better understanding of what the consumer is looking for across various features (from slimming to stretch) will peak interest and entice shoppers to spend.

Increasing Personal Style:
Time will continue to be a precious commodity for many in 2018.  This means more money will continue to be allocated towards experiences and making new memories.  This also means certain categories will feel that trade-off in spend.  Consumers will always need clothes but 2018 will see more companies offering to help shoppers with pairing outfit components across a variety of price-points.  This will not only help shoppers develop their personal style but also saves time and helps add some of the excitement back into the purchase process.   

With a new year there tends to be a new you.  Apparel can play on this concept as consumers are looking to get rid of the old in many aspects, including their wardrobe.  It is a time to start fresh and by just adding a little more fun this industry can go a long way.

Cheers to a fashionable, and fun, 2018!

 

* Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Omnibus Sep2017



November 7, 2017

Tis the Season To Be Unique – Apparel Looks To New Shopping Experiences

A good portion of my family members celebrate their birthdays in the fall. This year, birthday presents included things like a cooking class, a skydiving simulation and a room escape challenge for the family.  This also means I have to think extra-hard about what they could possibly want this upcoming holiday that will top that. After all, being able to buy a gift that someone truly enjoys requires some actual work. You really need to know the person.

That is why I was a bit surprised when my cousin gave my sister a gift card for her birthday.  Aren’t gift cards something you buy when you don’t know the person?  Not only was my sister given a gift card, it was for a place she never heard about...at least not until last week. You see, my cousin was planning on hosting a “cabi party.” 

For those who may not be as familiar with cabi, think of it as a clothing party one can host at their house where a stylist/advisor showcases pieces for the latest season. At first I thought of it as a good excuse to attend a “girl’s night out.” Some wine and cheese and I’d be set. But to my surprise I really loved the process. It was a fun “experience” if you will, where I basically shopped with my friends and family. Given our busy lifestyles, I rarely have time to go shopping let alone with my sister, mother, cousins and friends all at one time.

NPD’s partner, Civic Science, recently reported that women were less likely to choose a “clothing shopping spree” as a preferred splurge.  Instead they were opting for other forms of entertainment and experiences, hence the previously mentioned birthday gifts. But in the scenario of the “cabi party”, we got the experience AND the clothes. And boy did we splurge. Remember my sister who went in with a gift card to a place she didn’t even know existed; well she purchased beyond the gift amount, didn’t shop with any discounts and is already looking to host a party herself. So I guess my perception of gift card giving was proven wrong – there can be much more behind these gifts than appears on the surface, for gift-giver, recipient, and the brand.

With half* of consumers saying they rarely or never plan to spend full price on clothing in 2017, apparel is faced with a challenging environment. Matt Powell’s Sneakernomics blog called the future PUNY (Premium, Unique, New and Young). According to Matt, the shift to PUNY presents challenges for the mega-brands. The consumer is in more control today than ever before and how brands respond to this change will have great bearing on their future.

Unique shopping experiences like Stitch Fix, with their recent IPO announcement, Rent The Runway, or in this case cabi are keeping consumers interested in apparel while stealing dollars from the more traditional platforms.  This is a wake-up call for brands to better understand their consumer before they decide to take their money elsewhere, especially for the upcoming holiday season.   

*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Omnibus Feb 2017



August 23, 2017

The New Look of Back-to-School

This back-to-school shopping season is a clear reflection of changing times. Besides the season starting earlier and ending later, back-to-school shopping now includes more options for the consumer than ever before, and the effects of these overarching shifts are impacting retail fashion at a deeper level. Kids no longer flock to a single must-have item or a must-shop store. Rather, students are shopping eclectically and this is putting a new kind of pressure on retailers.

Apparel accounts for the largest share of back-to-school spending for students in Kindergarten through 12th grade, and almost 60 percent of consumers told NPD that they planned to spend more on apparel purchases for back-to-school during the 2017 shopping season*. Yet, overall apparel dollar sales are down two percent in the nine weeks ending August 12 compared to the same period in 2016**. The reality is the majority of the back-to-school wardrobe comes together after school starts. By September 2016, more than a quarter of consumers had not yet completed their back-to-school apparel shopping*. In spite of the promotions happening at retail – the days of students shopping for the bulk of their school clothes in the summer are quickly fading. But even after school has started, the fashion industry has another set of challenges to face.

Today’s younger generations view fashion through a different lens than those who preceded them. Generation Z’s emphasis on social media has also changed the way fashion is communicated, inspired, and consumed among teens. As a result, fashion has gotten much more eclectic – a wide range of styles has now taken the place of the must-have look. There are also lots of choices for where to shop, from the high-end to the low-end, and everything in-between – never mind all the online and in-store options.

Consumer shopping delays and diversity are the drivers behind the recent two percent decline in apparel sales and the challenges that retail fashion will continue to face beyond this back-to-school shopping season. The lack of passion for fashion among today’s youth, the lack of on overarching fashion influence, and lack of a singular fashion direction has created a gap between the retailer and the consumer, which is resulting in a gap in sales.

While apparel will be a top back-to-school spend, albeit delayed, back-to-school shoppers are thinking about their back-to-school fashion spend differently. Manufacturers and retailers need to close the gap and relate to the students shopping for apparel consumer and ask, “What’s your look?”

* Source: The NPD Group / LAB Series: 2017 Back-to-School Report
** Source: The NPD Group / Weekly Retail Tracking Service



July 26, 2017

Personalizing Prime?

We recently welcomed Alexa into my family through Amazon’s latest virtual assistant option, the Echo Show.  She claimed prime real-estate on the kitchen counter thanks to her new seven inch touchscreen and was a big hit during a recent gathering with friends. The conversation quickly turned to the multitude of ways each of my friends currently utilize Amazon’s services to fit their own personal needs.

One friend will be sure to take advantage of the recent Whole Foods acquisition, as she’s on the hunt for more grass-fed cow’s milk options. Another, an avid Kindle reader, devours books in Prime Reading. While a third friend stated her kid would never be able to go to birthday party if it wasn’t for Amazon Prime delivering gifts the next day given her forgetful nature. As we spent hours asking Alexa to play music ranging from pop to nursery rhymes, and even 80’s hairbands, I couldn’t help but wonder how I’ll be able to use my new device once Prime Wardrobe officially launches. 

There is still a lot to learn about Amazon’s new “try before you buy” service. Currently, you pick the individual items you want. But could devices like the Echo Show or Echo Look evolve into something similar to Stitch Fix, offering outfit curation based on subscribers’ style?

While Amazon is the top online apparel retailer among consumers of all ages, according to NPD’s Checkout Tracking E-Commerce information, Stitch Fix is not far behind on the list, especially for 35-44 year olds where it ranks sixth in terms of share of their online apparel wallet. Like the Amazon consumer, the Stitch Fix consumer is shopping online. They spent almost half of their online apparel wallet at retailers with no physical location. And consumers who shop at Stitch Fix also spend five times more at Stitch Fix than they did on apparel purchases from Amazon.* 

Subscription shopping services are changing the way we think about shopping. With the technology of Echo devices and Amazon’s broad product reach, there is potential for Amazon to take the subscription model to a whole new level. As someone who regularly shops both Amazon and StitchFix, I’ll be keeping a close eye as to what emerges as a result of Prime Wardrobe, especially given the move towards more personalization in today’s apparel environment. Until then, I am truly enjoying Alexa as the newest member of my family.

 

 

*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Checkout Tracking E-Commerce,12ME Dec 2016



June 29, 2017

Entering the World of “Spashion”

Eight glasses of water…check. Ten thousand steps…check. Whole grains…check. From clean eating to athleisure makeup, the idea of living a healthy lifestyle is here to stay and making its presence known across industries. But, for some, healthy living is less about actually being healthy and more about looking the part.

Beyond the comfort component that has been a major focus behind the athleisure trend, consumers are also looking for clothing to be functional, and of course, fashionable. Clothing that can be worn to work and the soccer field makes life much easier for working moms.

Enter “spashion”…companies are now blurring the lines between sport functionality and fashionable looks.

Athleisure has been a main trend in the industry for the past few years, showing double-digit growth since 2012. We are wearing activewear even when we are not actually exercising. It’s part of our wardrobe and part of the casualization of Americans that my colleague, Marshal Cohen, has been examining since its onset. This year, the craze for athletic bottoms has started to settle – dollar sales gained a moderate five percent compared to the 14 percent growth last year.

On the flipside, interest in denim has been on the rise, with dollar sales growing for the last two years, largely due to newness and innovation within the women’s category.* Jeans with yoga pant lining or extreme stretch are the types of products that consumers are starting to expect from clothing brands today. Gone are the days of uncomfortable denim. Today’s jeans are softer, stretchier, and more versatile than they were a few short years ago. These innovations are spanning various brands and price-points, making this trend more attainable.

Bralettes are another example of the fashion and sport worlds coming together. These products have made sport and non-sport bras somewhat interchangeable for the consumer. As a result, sport bralettes’ share of the market increased 12 points in just one year’s time.**

The list of categories that blur sports and fashion is long. From bigger ticket items like outerwear to your everyday basics like socks, elements from both sides are making their way into end products. Knowing which elements are most important to your unique consumer is essential in aligning your product’s offerings to their lifestyle.

After all, a consumer who wants to be fashionable while running errands around town may very well be looking for some of the same functional features as a consumer planning to run a marathon –  when that happens, it is time to enter the world of “spashion”.

 

Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Consumer Tracking 12ME May 2017*
Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Retail Tracking 12ME April 2017**



April 10, 2017

Survival of the Fittest

Ivy Park, Victoria’s Secret, Old Navy, and Calvin Klein are not your “traditional” athletic apparel brands, but they are making their presence known within the activewear category. The definition of athletic continues to evolve. More fashion-centric brands are embracing this lifestyle change, especially within women’s apparel, making it more inclusive of all brands. And boy, oh boy, there are a lot of brands.

The number of activewear brands still continues to grow. There are nearly thirty percent* more brands reported by consumers than there were just two years ago…that’s nearly five hundred* more brands! With everyone jumping on the active bandwagon, when will activewear sales slowdown?  Well, that depends on the brand.

Lululemon revolutionized the premium athletic legging market but saw stock prices dive over 20 percent – their March 29 th investor call reported a slow start to 2017 resulting from a lack of depth and color in their spring assortment. And though some other factors, like weather, a late spring and delayed tax refund checks have plagued 2017’s performance across many brands, I can’t help but wonder, was this just a blip or a sign of more troubles to come for the brand?

The brand’s once unique yoga-inspired niche is now faced with competition across various price-points. While some consumers will remain loyal to the brand, there will be others that find solace in lower-priced options that are “good enough,” especially in today’s overly promotional retail environment. Consumers are trained to seek out a deal – half** of apparel consumers said they plan to rarely, or never, pay full price for their clothing in 2017.

Though dollar sales growth of women’s active apparel bottoms has slowed to five percent*** from the double-digit gains experienced just one year ago, women are still buying more. There were 118 million*** more women’s active bottoms sold in the 12 months ending February 2017 than what was sold just five years ago, clearly showing that this apparel item is a part of her everyday lifestyle, and it is not about to go away.

Along with the active world, the fashion world is addressing the consumer’s need for comfort. Whether it is the blurring of denim and active, pajamas going from sleep to street, or overall versatility, the options are endless. This bodes well for the consumer, who can be picky and select the right choice for her needs and her wallet. But, it puts added pressure on brands to differentiate from the growing field of competition, while connecting to their consumer to get their fair share. In this sea of brands it will be a survival of the fittest, pun intended. 

 

Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Consumer Tracking Dec 2016*
Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Omnibus Feb 2017**
Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Consumer Tracking Feb 2017***



March 13, 2017

Navigating the Retail Course Correction

Though store closings are not considered new news, there was a plethora of retailers officially announcing their closures earlier this year, including a number of industry leaders. And while businesses need to adjust to having less retail space, it will take a toll on overall apparel sales during this course correction.     

The closing of The Sports Authority stores was called the largest failure ever seen in the sports industry by my colleague, Matt Powell. The Sports Authority represented more than 10 percent of the sports industry’s apparel and equipment sales. What was not anticipated after doors closed was that some of its business would simply evaporate. Some business went to adjacent big box retailers, some went to ecommerce, but there was about 20 to 25 percent that just disappeared.

So what will consumers do when some of their favorite apparel stores begin to close locations? In a recent survey, 58 percent* of respondents told NPD they would seek out the particular store, either at another physical location or on that retailer’s website. A third* said they will turn to another retailer. The remaining 9 percent of responses indicate an uncertain fate (six percent* said they will not shop for apparel, and the rest didn’t select any of the options), even before their store actually closed and could produce another sales evaporation story.

One channel that stands to gain during these changing times is off-price. Nearly six out of every 10 (56 percent)** consumers who purchase apparel, buy clothing at off-price stores. Those who shop off-price for clothing spent five percent more per purchase, bought thirty-three more apparel items per year, and visited twelve more apparel retailers per year. This consumer is passionate about their apparel purchase and will cross-shop – eighty-five percent** of off-price buyers also purchase apparel from department and specialty stores. But with fewer apparel store options on the horizon this consumer may start to dedicate more of their wallet to the off-price channel.

While retailers hope a consumer will remain loyal, the landscape is changing. Doors are closing and apparel brands are losing shelf space. Deep discounting has become a reality in today’s apparel industry. Retailers are looking beyond omni-channel and becoming more personal. Stores that not only recognize but also adapt quickly to each of these changes will be the ones to head in the right direction and ultimately prevail.

 

*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / February 2017 Omnibus
**Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Checkout TrackingTM,  December 2016**


January 17, 2017

Will Consumers Wear American Pride On Their Sleeves…and Deepen Their Pockets?

Change is in the air. News about companies outside of apparel bringing their manufacturing back to the U.S. is increasing. One of the largest clothing manufacturers in the U.S., American Apparel, was just purchased by Gildan, a Canada-based company; and we are preparing for the inauguration of a new U.S. president. This is both an exciting and uncertain time for domestic manufacturing. The next four years could play a major role in the ‘Made in the USA’ sentiment.

American pride is evident in today’s consumerism. Americans are expressing their national pride, and looking for ‘Made in the USA’ labels on the products they buy. Nearly eighty percent of shoppers said it is important to them to some degree, with almost half (44 percent) stating it is extremely or very important that the products they buy be made in the USA – even higher for those forty-five years or older. But when asked if they would pay more for a product that was made in the USA, less than a quarter (23 percent) said they are willing to spend the extra money all or most of the time. Half of shoppers said they would sometimes be willing to pay more for products made in the USA, which is likely dependent on what they are buying.

Hands down, and to no surprise, food was the item that most consumers said they would be more likely buy if it was made in the USA. Second to food was apparel. Apparel edged in front of categories like home appliances, footwear, and even cars. Apparel’s number two position was driven by women – Females were 30 percent more likely than men to opt for apparel that is made in the USA. But with heavy discounting dictating the way we shop, as seen throughout the recent holiday season, is it realistic to expect the consumer to pay more for American-made apparel?

My colleague, Marshal Cohen, said in a recent blog, “2017 will be the year that country of origin will take a significant step forward in terms of both consumer responsiveness and becoming part of the marketing DNA of the product.” What it all means for the apparel industry remains to be seen. Will consumers actually spend more on locally produced product?  Only time will tell. What we do know is consumers are paying attention to where products are made, and so should manufacturers and retailers.

Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Omnibus Sept 2016



January 6, 2017

Eight Expectations for Fashion in 2017

This year will be one full of change for fashion at retail – some is overdue, some is driven, but all of it is necessary. The days of the consumer following trends have faded. Consumers are now creating their own looks, seeking apparel, footwear, and accessories that fit into their lifestyle, not the other way around.

Active will enter its second generation in 2017. Active apparel companies will transform their product to be less focused on performance and more focused on lifestyle. At the same time, lifestyle brands will try to become more active-oriented.  

Footwear fusion will be the key. The hybrid approach to activewear will carry over to footwear in 2017 as well. The focus for feet will be less about dress and more about innovation and comfort.

Casualization will give pajamas new function. The next generation of casualization will mainstream the use of pajamas as weekend wear. This is not a new concept – college students have been doing this for years – but now it will be embraced by those who didn’t just have an all-nighter cramming for a final.

The little things will matter. Consumers will continue to focus less on mid-range purchases, and more on big and small spends. It’s the latter that will benefit fashion accessories. The affordable splurge on a wristlet or keyfob will maintain its appeal from 2016.

Organic fibers will come to the rescue of activewear, and our noses. The apparel industry will begin to rebel against the negative properties of activewear, such as smell. Look for increased promotion of organic fibers calling synthetic fibers out on their challenges with odor and durability.

Struggle and success will weave together for denim this year. Denim has been on the rebound over the past year, and it will struggle to return to its true glory in 2017. But some brands will fill their pockets and find growth.  

There will be an evolution in accessorizing. Technology and innovation have an important place in the world of accessories. The emphasis on carrying a cell phone or tablet in style will be more important than ever. But even the accessories will have to be functional and innovative in order to fit with the current consumer criteria of convenience, need, desire, and price.

Apparel will face a new kind of opponent. The apparel industry will struggle to remain a priority spend, competing for their share of wallet. But it’s not just technology, apparel will go up against intangible purchases too, as younger consumers seek and spend on services and experiences more than ever.  



December 21, 2016

Holiday Wardrobe Malfunction?

The first half of this holiday shopping season proved to be a challenging start for the apparel industry. Despite early consumer intentions pointing to apparel as an area of increased spending this holiday season – a 7 percent increase in planned spending over 2015* – that spending doesn’t appear to have happened yet. NPD’s Holiday Shopping Bag 2016 Weekly Report has shown declines in apparel sales from week- to- week when compared to the same time last year, with few exceptions.

Over Thanksgiving week, apparel sales were not as low as earlier in the season, but still down 2 percent against last year and failing to gain momentum against the competition of more exciting and innovative categories for holiday. There were several apparel categories that gained some momentum during this peak week. Within women's dresses, swimwear, socks, and workout wear for women, the big winner. In men's apparel, it was a trip back to traditions with pajamas garnering the most growth for the week, followed by tailored clothing (includes dress and sport shirts, suits and jackets).

In the week after Thanksgiving – Cyber Week – apparel sales fell 5 percent below the same week in 2015. Abundant and deep promotions certainly got the attention of consumers, but it wasn’t enough. Apparel got a slight boost the following week (ending December 10), during the usual holiday lull, with a 1 percent increase in dollar sales compared to last year. Women’s and men’s outerwear were among the top performers, so the weather forecast likely played the biggest role in this shift.

The apparel industry has discounted themselves right off any possible path toward growth. This, combined with the lack of a ‘must have’ fashion item keeps apparel chasing last year’s results. While apparel is not alone in this holiday’s conundrum, the category has a prominent role in holiday retail performance, with 66 percent of consumers planning to purchase clothing during the season*.

There is still time to avoid a complete holiday wardrobe malfunction. In the final stretch of holiday shopping, which typically results in a sales peak close to that of Thanksgiving/Black Friday week, consumers will continue to look for deals, but they are also looking for those last-minute special gifts. The emphasis at retail needs to move toward delivering the products consumers are looking for, not just the price they are looking for.

Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Holiday Shopping Bag 2016 Weekly Report
*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey


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