In the last several years, the women’s handbag business has been in decline. NPD estimates that 2017 handbag sales were $7.0 billion, down 8% from 2016. The data is remarkably consistent among sources and when you talk to people in the handbag business, they all say how tough it has been. It raises the question: What happened? Why would handbag sales be declining when the economy is so strong? Why would consumers be buying fewer handbags when they continue to buy more of most other things? Where did they go?
At the most recent Outdoor Retailer trade show, NPD presented some interesting information about backpacks and duffel bags. Sales of backpacks to men are down by 5% (for the 12 months ending May 2018). Sales of children’s backpacks are down even more, by 15%. Curiously, sales of backpacks to women are up by a whopping 15%. Duffel bag sales are up as well, by 17% for the 12 months ending February 2018.
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