NEW YORK — Online apparel and accessories sales surged 44 percent over year-ago levels in July, reaching $500 million, according to Web ratings agency comScore Media Metrix.
For the year-to-date, apparel sales online totaled $4.4 billion, up 38 percent against $3.2 billion in the first seven months of 2002 — or more than twice the rate of increase in nontravel volume online, which climbed 18 percent to $29.3 billion from $24.9 billion, comScore reported.
“Apparel has been a strong growth category online this year, even during the war,” said Graham Mudd, an analyst at the agency. “It is a very well developed e-commerce sector, second only to computer hardware in average monthly sales. Apparel has been able to establish some loyalty among online consumers.”
Total nontravel e-commerce tallied $4.1 billion in July, marking growth of 32 percent versus a year ago, or a rate 12 percentage points slower than the 44 percent advance realized by apparel in the same period.
The robust gains in apparel and accessories spending were fed by a 6 percent rise in online fashion shoppers, to 34 million in July from 32 million in July 2002, many of whom were shopping for children’s clothes for the approaching school season.
Apparel specialty sites that drew the most customers in July were led by Eddie Bauer and Spiegel parent Otto Gruppe, with 4.3 million users, followed by Limited Brands online properties, which together drew 3.7 million visitors; Old Navy, 3.6 million; Alloy, 2.6 million; Gap.com 2.4 million; Foot Locker, 2.3 million; Nike, 2 million; L.L. Bean, 1.62 million; American Eagle, 1.6 million, and Fredericks, 1.59 million.
The broader sales trend online has also been a bright spot in a slack economy. In the second quarter ended June 30, e-commerce climbed 28 percent to $12.5 billion, from sales of $9.8 billion in the prior-year period, the Commerce Department said. That brought online volume to a 1.5 percent share of retail sales, which totaled $858.8 billion in the second quarter, up from its 1.2 percent share a year earlier, when retail sales tallied $818.6 billion.
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