The three key components of the $334 billion retail fashion segment–apparel, footwear and fashion accessories–are each in different positions when it comes to the business, according to leading global information company The NPD Group. The apparel industry, which represents 65% of total U.S. retail fashion dollar sales and spans everything from basics to jeans, continues to enjoy the consistent growth experienced over the past few years. Conversely, the more trend-driven footwear and fashion accessories industries are now experiencing sales declines, keeping overall retail fashion sales in the 12 months ending February 2017 even with results from the prior year.
According to The NPD Group, Inc. / Consumer Tracking Service, while the footwear and fashion accessories industries experienced dollar sales growth in the 12 months ending February 2016, both have taken a turn in the past year. The U.S. footwear industry declined 1% to $65 billion in the 12 months ending February 2017, driven by in-store losses. Fashion accessories sales dropped 7%, to $51 billion during this period, with declines occurring both online and in-store.
Not only are consumers spending less, they’re purchasing fewer items as well. These declines occurred while segments of the Millennial generation increased their spending on footwear, fashion accessories, and apparel.
“The losses happening within footwear and fashion accessories are leading indicators of the fundamental changes occurring within the whole of fashion at retail,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc. “Consumers tend to build their wardrobes through accessories and footwear, giving their outfit a fresh look, so when sales of either of these industries slow or decline it signals a decline in fashion as a priority.”
As activewear has been in apparel, the sport leisure category has been the recent bright spot in footwear. But, the fashion segment, representing more than 40% of annual footwear dollar sales, has been challenged in the past year – down 6% in the 12 months ending February 2017. The fashion accessories industry has seen growth in categories like luggage and backpacks. However, one of the biggest struggles for this industry has been the now $7.3 billion handbag category, which lost more than $1 billion in sales between March 2016 and February 2017.
“The active influences that drove apparel did not impact the total accessories and footwear businesses in the same way – while fashion athletic and retro sneakers worked well, consumers continued to be presented with the same non-athletic inspired fashion footwear and bags,” says Cohen. “The overall scope of today’s fashion innovation needs to reach beyond one audience or one set of consumer demands, but also be prepared to move with new influences as they take shape.”