NPD: Women’s Apparel Sales Up 3.7% in 2013

Online purchases, outerwear and tailored merchandise pace sales gains.

Women’s apparel sales in the U.S. rose 3.7 percent last year, to $116.4 billion from $112.3 billion in 2012, according to The NPD Group’s compilation of results for 2013.

This story first appeared in the April 17, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The results for last year include a 17 percent increase in women’s apparel bought on Web sites, accounting for about 15 percent of the total, or about $17.5 billion.

Smaller categories and distribution channels garnered the largest increases, with outerwear sales up 12 percent to $6.3 billion as persistent cold weather characterized the end of the year. Tailored clothing for women — including jackets, blazers and suit separates — registered an 11 percent increase to reach about $4 billion. The dress-up trend was also complemented by a 33 percent rise in sales of tights, NPD said.

Off-price retailers garnered the largest increases in women’s wear sales among the major distribution channels, with sales rising 8 percent to $13.1 billion. In descending order of increases, mass merchants were up 3 percent to $14.4 billion, department stores up 2 percent to $19.1 billion and, maintaining their position as the largest channel for women’s apparel sales, specialty stores up 2 percent to $42 billion. National chains, including J.C. Penney Co. Inc. and Kohl’s Corp., registered a 1 percent increase to $11.9 billion.

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Warehouse clubs moved up 10 percent to $1.2 billion while “all other” retailers also gained 10 percent to account for $14.7 billion of the total.

Noting the double-digit increase in online purchasing, Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD, pointed out that the average online purchase is larger than the average purchase made in a store.

“With the continued increase of online sales threatening the traditional brick-and-mortar retail model, retailers and brands must be quick to adapt to the changing needs of the online shopper,” he said. “Seamless integration across all channels will help retailers maintain a better connection with their shoppers.”