By  on September 13, 2007

Web sales of apparel, accessories and footwear reached $18.3 billion last year and are expected to grow to $22.1 billion this year, according to Forrester Research. Nielsen//NetRatings has provided the rankings of retailers who recorded the highest online apparel and accessories purchases in July. Trends among the top 10: outdoorsy brands L.L. Bean and Lands' End, along with women's apparel names, such as Victoria's Secret, Lane Bryant and Coldwater Creek. Macy's, Wal-Mart and Target ranked 13th, 17th and 22nd, respectively. "What we have noticed is that bricks-and-mortars are definitely closing the gap and becoming more competitive in the online world," said Larry Freed, president and chief executive officer of ForeSee Results Inc., an online satisfaction research firm.


Total apparel and accessories purchases in July: 2.98 million

Average spent per buyer: $35.83

"EBay continues to be the biggest online retailer, almost with a vengeance — every month is huge for them," said Heather Dougherty, senior analyst for retail and travel, Nielsen//NetRatings. Since its inception, San Jose, Calif.-based eBay has expanded to include some of the strongest e-commerce brands, including PayPal, Skype, and others. EBay's online auction marketplace is saturated with well-known designer apparel and accessories names. Items currently up for bid include a black Chanel Cambon reporter bag, sterling silver open heart earrings by Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co. and a Prada White Label dress.


Total purchases: 663,000
Average spent per buyer: $177.74

Chairman and chief executive officer Leslie Wexner has redirected the focus of Limited Brands Inc. The Columbus, Ohio-based company sold off its Limited and Express stores to focus more on its innerwear and beauty offerings from Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works. The retailer also includes Henri Bendel, C.O. Bigelow, White Barn Candle Co. and La Senza in its portfolio of brands. Victoria's Secret offers more than just innerwear: Swimwear, shoes, beauty products and various apparel pieces are also available on the site. Victoria's Secret ranks second behind Coldwater Creek, in terms of the average amount spent per buyer.3. J.C. PENNEY & CO.

Total purchases: 568,000
Average spent per buyer: $68.65

In June, tied for fourth place as one of the top retail Web sites in terms of customer satisfaction, according to the latest biannual study by ForeSee Results. For the Plano, Tex.-based retailer's second-quarter performance ended Aug. 4, Internet sales through increased 17.4 percent on overall sales of $4.4 billion, and the strongest merchandise results were in children's and women's apparel, with the best performances in the Northwest and Southwest. In 2006, Internet sales accounted for 6 percent of Penney's $20 billion in total sales. The Web site said that among its general merchandise peers " has the highest rate (10.1 percent) of converting site visitors into buyers."


Total purchases: 305,000
Average spending per buyer: $62.15

West Bridgewater, Mass.-based Chadwick's is owned by Redcats USA, part of the French conglomerate PPR (which also owns Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta). "Chadwick's is one of the most desirable sites for customers to shop for dresses," company spokeswoman Pat Cross told WWD. " anticipates selling over 750,000 dresses during 2007 — to date, the company has already sold approximately 500,000 dresses on the Web." In addition, the company offers shoes and accessories for women, such as handbags, legwear and fine jewelry.

5. L.L. BEAN

Total purchases: 271,000
Average spending per buyer: $122.40

This privately held mail-order and retail company was founded by Leon Leonwood Bean in 1912. Based in Freeport, Maine, L.L. Bean specializes in men's, women's and children's clothing and outdoor equipment. According to, an Internet ratings service, reaches more than 2.3 million U.S. monthly unique visitors. "The site attracts a slightly more female than male, mostly Caucasian, more affluent, more educated, primarily older crowd," said The company continues to focus on increasing its brick-and-mortar shops worldwide and plans to expand its headquarters by developing a hotel, a 100,000-square-foot lifestyle shopping center and an outdoor adventure center.6. LANDS' END

Total purchases: 263,000
Average spending per buyer: $76.48

Owned by Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Sears Holdings Corp., this retailer was acquired by the company in 2002. Lands' End carries women's apparel, such as activewear, jeans, innerwear, skirts, dresses, outerwear and sleepwear, along with accessories and bags. The retailer launched its Web site in 1995 and featured 100 products, along with essays and travelogues. Today, the site offers all of its products. On the home page, new fall looks are featured, including cashmere and wool sweaters, canvas field jackets and tunic tops. The site's Overstocks section offers shoppers up to a 65 percent discount on apparel items such as V-neck T-shirts, flannel pajamas and swimsuits.


Total purchases: 259,000
Average spending per buyer: $182.71

This company's sales momentum continues, partly because of its Web site's performance: For the second quarter ended Aug. 7, Web site net sales increased 9.8 percent to $54.8 million, from $49.9 million in the fiscal 2006 second quarter. Web site net sales represented 21.6 percent of the company's total net sales in the fiscal 2007 second quarter. In addition to its online services, WWD reported this month that the Sandpoint, Idaho-based retailer has opened its first Manhattan store, a 15,000-square-foot flagship on Third Avenue and 68th Street — one of the most expensive retail corridors in the region.


Total purchases: 253,000
Average spending per buyer: $60.50

In 2001, Charming Shoppes Inc. acquired the Columbus, Ohio-based Lane Bryant, which describes as "the fashion leader in women's plus-size clothing, sizes 14-28." The site offers tops, bottoms, suiting, activewear, swimwear, dresses, outerwear, maternity clothing and accessories for women. In addition, the site's Right Fit by Lane Bryant section takes shoppers through a quick questionnaire to help ensure a proper fit for their body type.

9. QVC

Total purchases: 204,000
Average spending per buyer: $98.89The initials stand for Quality, Value, Convenience. QVC's shopping network went online on Sept. 9, 1996, allowing viewers the option of purchasing their items online. The site features a daily special on its home page, called Today's Special Value. Major apparel and accessories names that are sold through QVC include: Dooney & Burke, Maxx New York, Etienne Aigner and Michael Michael Kors for accessories, and Bradley Bayou, Pamela Dennis, Bob Mackie and Diva By Dana Buchman for apparel.

10. KOHL'S

Total purchases: 200,000
Average spending per buyer: $84.26

Kohl's this week has boosted its portfolio of apparel, accessories and home furnishings offerings with the Simply Vera Vera Wang line. In addition to Simply Vera, Menomonee Falls, Wisc.-based Kohl's sells apparel from brands, such as Chaps, Daisy Fuentes and Levi's. For young shoppers, back-to-school items are still available, from brands such as Candie's and Tony Hawk. The site also features a large clearance section, which currently features items discounted by 60 to 80 percent.

source: Nielsen//NetRatings MegaView Retail, July 2007; July results reflect the most recent data available

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