Statistics from the retail and consumer community are clear: the U.S. recovery may be inching up but the accessories industry is rebounding in stride
As the first December sales figures began spilling in from major retailers right after New Year’s, economists and retail analysts were speculating about what the holiday figures signaled for future retail sales. The good news was that same-store comparable sales—a measure of retail health—were up 3.2% over 2009. But the December increases fell short of what most analysts had predicted—no thanks to a post Christmas blizzard that hampered sales in the highly populated Northeast.[wlm_private_Premium]Does the strongest holiday season in three years portend an upswing in consumer spending for 2011? Or did the miss in projected sales increases indicate that consumers were once again pulling back on spending as a slow recovery and high unemployment loom?
Those answers won’t be obvious until later this year. But holiday results from retailers and consumer sales across the country for 2010 do confirm one thing: women’s accessories have already rebounded from the downturn during the Great Recession.
December and January sales results from the 28 largest retailers—even those that posted disappointing sales overall—revealed that accessories were among the top sellers, such as jewelry and watches.
This year’s Annual Census Report is unequivocal about the state of the accessories industry—consumers are definitely spending on them again, thank you very much.
Accessories magazine and leading consumer research firm The NPD Group, Inc. partnered once again to bring you this comprehensive view of the accessories industry. The compiled 2010 sales results provide an in-depth look at better-thanexpected accessories industry results.
This report fuses Accessories’ proprietary industry research with NPD statistics. NPD—through its retail sales tracking services and consumer panels—compiled data on what consumers purchased across all retail channels, which encompass 90% of all accessories sold in the United States.
“NPD is delighted to continue our partnership with Accessories magazine,” says Mike Kuhl, senior vice president, fashion at NPD. “Not only do we value our relationship with the magazine, we also look forward to providing more accessories retailers and manufacturers with world-class solutions to help guide their businesses. We are committed to providing a greater depth of insights with continued investments in and enhancements to our products and services.”
In fact, over the past 12 months, NPD has increased its investment by “staffing up our client team, expanding our consumer tracking service into Canada, as well acquiring the premium watch and jewelry tracking service LGI Network.”
Key Retail Trends
Good news at last: the women’s accessories business rebounded in 2010. Sales grew 8% after having fallen 3% in2009 during the height of the economic downturn.
• While unit sales fell in most categories during 2009, the reverse occurred in 2010. Unit sales increased across almost all categories. That combined with increases in the average unit price led to the strong overall market performance.
• As they have throughout the economic downturn, accessories outperformed women’s apparel. In 2010, women’s apparel posted a 3% increase after a decline of 5% in 2009. Women’s footwear was also a strong performer with a sale increase of 8% in 2010.
• Accessories beat women’s apparel sales in another aspect, too. While some 43% of all accessories were purchased on sale, 57% of apparel sales were made on sale.
• Fashion/costume and bridge jewelry were the main drivers of growth among all of the accessories categories. Fashion/costume and bridge jewelry, which grew 11% from the previous year, comprised 31% of total accessories sales in 2010.
• Another notable turnaround occurred in fashion/sport watches, which had suffered a 10% drop in sales during 2009. Watches posted nearly a 21% increase in dollars sales during 2010.
• Although small leathergoods experienced only a modest 2% increase in 2010, that growth was on top of a 7% increase in 2009. Indeed, small leathergoods has been a top performer throughout the economic downturn as consumers looked for inexpensive ways to update their accessories wardrobes, not to mention their new phones and gadgets.
• In general, about half of accessories dollar sales were generated by consumers purchasing on sale. But when it came to small leathergoods and sunglasses, consumers were willing to pay full price.
• Online accessories purchasing continued to grow. Jewelry and watches had the highest penetration of online sales, followed by handbags and small leathergoods.
• Bargains seemed less important in 2010, particularly for jewelry and watches where specialty stores gained share. In watches, department stores also performed well. Off-price/factory outlets/warehouse clubs held on to the business they had gained in 2009 in categories such as handbags and small leathergoods.
About the Accessories Census 2010 Report: Accessories magazine and the The NPD Group, Inc. have collaborated on all the accessories categories listed in the total chart. In addition to the consumer information collected by NPD, this census contains Accessories magazine’s proprietary research of industry statistics and trends incorporating classifications not surveyed by NPD, such as hairgoods, slippers and casual footwear. The Port Washington, NY-based NPD Group is the leading provider of consumer and retail information for a wide range of industries. For more information, click www.npd.com.