By  on September 24, 2013

A shift toward more tailored looks and away from more casual attire helped lift apparel sales 3.6 percent during the first seven months of 2013.According to data from The NPD Group of Port Washington, N.Y., sales of all apparel reached $106.57 billion during the first seven months of the year, up from $102.91 billion during the comparable period in 2012. Unit sales rose 3.4 percent while average selling prices were flat.Men’s wear enjoyed the largest share of the increases as sales rose 6 percent to $29.92 billion from $28.22 billion, highlighted by a 14 percent rise in sport coats and a 55 percent surge in suit separates, according to NPD. Units were up 1.7 percent and average selling prices up 4.3 percent.RELATED CONTENT: WWD Research Roundup >>Although not specified, sales of the two biggest categories within men’s wear, knit and woven sport shirts, experienced “little growth,” NPD said.Women’s wear’s increases were more modest but similarly driven by the move to tailored apparel. The category’s sales totaled $61.81 billion through July, up 2.1 percent from the 2012 mark of $60.56 billion. Jackets and blazers had a sales increase of 19 percent and suit separates were up 14 percent. Sales of dresses, a hot category in recent years, were essentially flat.Women’s units managed a 3.5 percent increase while average selling price was down 1.4 percent.“Women are still conscious of what they are spending their dollars on and they want to invest in pieces that will give them multiple uses,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD. “With the blazer, they can put it over a dress from their closet during the day and pair it with jeans at night or on the weekends.”He cited “a slow and steady return to dressing up over the last couple of years” for the shift in sales, with both men and women more reliant on dressy separates due to their flexibility in being dressed up or dressed down.Sales of boys’ and girls’ apparel were up 5.1 and 5.2 percent, respectively, to $4.28 billion and $5.18 billion. Increases in units sold of 6.2 and 8.9 percent helped overcome declines in average selling price of 1.1 and 3.4 percent. Infant and toddler apparel sales rose 3.6 percent to $5.38 billion.RELATED STORY: Consumer Confidence Dips in September >>

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