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

Port Washington, NY, February 21, 2018 — Millennials, athleisure, and e-commerce 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.

“The apparel industry is being challenged to respond to the latest changes being driven by the broader consumer and retail environment, “said Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor, The NPD Group, Inc. “The rapid pace of change in Millennial consumption is one major change that points back to the importance of evolving consumer segmentation. The future of the apparel business depends on manufacturers and retailers refocusing on the current needs of each critical consumer segment.”

In 2017, Millennials had the highest apparel growth rate of all generations at 4 percent, representing $2 billion in incremental sales. However, even the growth among this powerhouse has slowed from the double-digit increases seen over the past two years. Despite the slower growth rate among both Millennials and Gen Xers, they were the only generations with increases in apparel dollar sales in 2017. Baby Boomers, who account for nearly 20 percent of annual apparel dollar sales, and Gen Z, who generated almost a third of total apparel dollar sales, both experienced declines in overall spend for the year

The athleisure movement and influence on fashion continues to be a primary driver of growth opportunity for the industry. Non-activewear sales declined while activewear apparel continued on its growth trajectory in 2017, although not making as steep a rise as in past years – dollar sales increased 2 percent to $48 billion, which amounts to 22 percent of total industry sales. Sales of both men’s and women’s activewear grew in 2017, but women’s supplied much of the energy behind the category’s growth, reaching $21.9 billion in sales with a 4 percent increase over 2016.

E-commerce also remains a driving force at retail as in-store apparel sales have declined, but brick-and-mortar still represents more than three-quarters of annual industry dollars. E-commerce has had a relatively slow progression in apparel compared to other industries, from 16 percent of sales in 2014 to 21 percent in 2017. In 2017, online apparel sales grew just 4 percent from the prior year, following double-digit growth in the prior two years. According to e-commerce insights from NPD’s Checkout, which is based on information collected from more than three million consumers through data provided by our partner Slice Intelligence, the purchase frequency of online apparel consumers increased in the last year, but they spent 5 percent less per receipt*.

“Categories like active apparel bottoms, undershirts, and swimwear – which indicate the consumer’s concentration on comfort, the staples, and niche products – are the few sources of consistent, long-term growth in today’s apparel market,” added Cohen. “Retail is changing, the consumer is changing, and every industry must understand where spending habits have moved, and adapt to the shifting market dynamics that are impacting their business.”


Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Consumer Tracking Service
*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Checkout E-Commerce Tracking


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. Information is collected from more than 3 million consumers, through data provided by our partner Slice Intelligence and NPD’s own proprietary receipt-harvesting mobile phone app.


Related Press Releases

France Sports Apparel and Athletic Footwear Industry Grows 4 Percent to 6.68 Billion Euros Over the 12 Months Ending September 2018
France Sports Apparel and Athletic Footwear Industry Grows 4 Percent to 6.68 Billion Euros Over the 12 Months Ending September 2018

Market research company, The NPD Group, offers year-to-date sales insights for sports apparel and athletic footwear in France.

Sustainable Apparel Is Evolving But Consumers Need to Be Educated
Sustainable Apparel Is Evolving But Consumers Need to Be Educated

As consumer interest in sustainability grows so do the efforts of the apparel industry, but there is a clear need to educate shoppers in order to make this connection.

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

Denim manufacturers took note that U.S. consumers — even the most fashionable ones — like the comfort of activewear and followed suit. Their efforts have paid off with a 9 percent increase in sales of women’s jeans in the year ending July 2018 compared to year ago, according to The NPD Group.

The Casualization of American Apparel: Will the Athleisure Trend Stay or Go?
The Casualization of American Apparel: Will the Athleisure Trend Stay or Go?

Activewear currently represents 24 % of total apparel industry sales and is forecast to grow through 2019, reports The NPD Group’s Future of Apparel study. Athleisure wear has now become a fashion staple for daily activities other than going to the gym but the question is, does this trend have staying power?


Press Contact

Janine Marshall
516-625-2356
janine.marshall@npd.com

The NPD Group, Inc.
900 West Shore Road
Port Washington, NY 11050

Want more?

Complete this form to hear from NPD.


Newsletter

Subscribe and get key market trends and insights relevant to your industry each month.

We will not sell your information. View privacy notice.

Follow Us

Privacy Notices.

© The NPD Group, Inc.