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Private Label Gains Market Share

NEW YORK — Private labels and proprietary brands are on a roll.<br><br>Riding on the wings of an increasingly value-conscious consumer, annual sales of private and proprietary apparel brands have climbed by a combined 5 percent since 1998, while...

NEW YORK — Private labels and proprietary brands are on a roll.

Riding on the wings of an increasingly value-conscious consumer, annual sales of private and proprietary apparel brands have climbed by a combined 5 percent since 1998, while total apparel sales slumped 1.2 percent, according to an NPD Group survey.

For the 12 months ended this April, private and proprietary brands together won the largest share of volume by type of brand. That share amounted to 36 percent of consumer spending on apparel, or $57.8 billion of the $160.7 billion expended in the year ended in April.

By comparison, national brands snagged a 34 percent share, or $54.6 billion of apparel dollars spent by consumers in that 12-month period and designer brands grabbed 7 percent, or $11.2 billion. (Brand data was not captured for the remaining 23 percent, or $37 billion in purchases.)

Proprietary brands establish a personality behind the product — they give the consumer a reason to be more loyal and aware of the brand’s exclusivity, NPD said. Indeed, private labels have long offered savings versus national brands, but the rise of brands proprietary to a particular retailer, with the cachet of, say, Mossimo at Target or Joe Boxer at Kmart, have upped the attraction for many shoppers. At the same time, stores’ homegrown private brands, affixed to well-priced, quality products that are effectively promoted, have flourished, from Kohl’s Sonoma sportswear to J.C. Penney’s Arizona jeans.

Mass merchants are posting the strongest gains in private label sales, showing growth of 6 percent over the past three years. Sales of private and proprietary labels together represent 51 percent of apparel sales at mass retailers, up from 45 percent in 2001.