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NPD Reports On Apparel Sales for The First Half of 2011

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Apparel's Road To Recovery Detoured By Price Pressures And Other Distractions

Port Washington, NY, August 12, 2011The  NPD Group Inc., a leading market research company, released the results of the apparel market sales from its consumer tracking service for January through June 2011. Results show that while overall apparel market dollar sales have increased this year versus last, sales in certain market segments were down.

For the first six months of 2011, total apparel market dollar volume sales posted just under one percent growth rate. Within the wearer segments, men's apparel sales grew 4.6 percent and women's apparel sales were down 0.8 percent.

"The apparel market numbers were starting to look good again," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc., "However, the women's market is dragging, and women may continue to 'shop in their closets' and make concessions in favor of their family members' needs."

Within the categories by wearer segment there are some standouts. In the men's apparel market, sales of tailored clothing rose over 11 percent and sales of men's dress shirts rose over three percent.

"Men are in the need/replenishment cycle, as well as a 'dress-for-success' mindset," said Cohen, "Younger and the more 'experienced' men are buying apparel to replenish their worn-out items and, perhaps more importantly, buying wardrobe items that will separate them from the competition in the workplace."

Women's apparel, while suffering an overall decline of almost one percent had some categories that posted growth. Dollar sales of dresses, suits, and sheer hosiery are all in positive territory for the first half of 2011.

"While women for the most part are foregoing their own wardrobe needs, they are picking and choosing from categories that might have a benefit in their professional lives," noted Cohen.

Across the total apparel market, average retail prices rose six percent during the first half of 2011 versus the first half of 2010. Prices in the men's apparel market rose almost 8 percent, while prices in the women's apparel market rose three percent.

"Rising prices along with their impact on the consumer has gotten a lot of attention over the past six months," said Cohen, "The price pressures have come from throughout the supply chain and ultimately are passed on to consumers. But I think these results show that consumers have been accepting of those price increases."

"With all of the recent economic distractions, I am concerned about their effect on consumers," said Cohen, "Traditionally, July is not a strong retail month but going forward it will be critical for retailers to gather some momentum for retail's 'big' second half."

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