Amazon might be ready to become the king of fashion and footwear — but it still has to contend with the longtime market leader, Walmart Inc.
Wells Fargo said Amazon could knock Walmart off its perch and become the largest seller of apparel and footwear this year, with a combined gross merchandise volume of $30.8 billion in the categories.
That would be an increase of roughly 25 percent — rapid growth that would nonetheless mark a moderation in the curve after gains of 35 percent or better over the past two years.
Last year, Amazon was the number-two player in apparel and footwear with gross merchandise volume of $24.6 billion, ranking behind Walmart, which had sales of $29 billion in the area. Walmart would have to grow its apparel and footwear business by at least 6 percent this year to keep ahead of Amazon under this scenario, laid out in an analysis by Wells Fargo equity analyst Ike Boruchow.
The comparison is not apples to apples since Amazon is getting credit for transactions by third-party vendors on its platform, and most of Walmart’s take comes from its own sales directly to the customers. But the gmv-to-sales comparison is illustrative of the market share the web giant has siphoned away from other players. Wells Fargo noted Amazon captured 7.2 percent of the total apparel and footwear market last year, including e-commerce and physical retail.
Wells Fargo conducted a survey of 1,500 U.S. shoppers, asking what respondents liked most about shopping at Amazon and found that 70 percent or more said it was more convenient than going to a store or cited the merchant’s broad selection or its fast delivery.
But just as Amazon moves to take the lead in fashion, hope has returned to the brick-and-mortar crowd, which in general turned in solid second-quarter numbers and is more optimistic about the holiday season than it has been in several years.
Boruchow said: “The fact that traditional retailers showed sustained improvement in the second quarter simultaneously with growing e-commerce penetration over the past few quarters likely suggests that it’s not a ‘zero-sum game’ in retail today…if traditional retailers can successfully drive demand, they can participate in the market growth that e-commerce is driving.”
And retailers don’t plan to go away without a fight — particularly Walmart. The company has made a string of acquisitions — from Jet.com to Bonobos — to beef up its online and fashion businesses and is working to bring more brands onto its own platform, for instance linking with Lord & Taylor to create an online portal.