NPD’s Marshal Cohen Takes a Peek at What’s Going on in Holiday Retailing

In Industry Experts, What's New by Marshal Cohen

-holiday-shopping-word-cloud-on-53759167Port Washington, NY—I recently ventured to a local shopping mall with a group of NPD colleagues to check out the post-Thanksgiving retail scene.

Although the stores weren’t Black Friday-esque in terms of traffic, and no consumers had to squeeze their way through doors, the resemblance to Black Friday sales was rather uncanny. Discounts were deeper than expected and deals remained abundant, with many apparel stores offering 50% off the entire store, “buy one, get one free” promotions, and free gifts with select purchases.

There were more shoppers than usual for a Wednesday afternoon, but there were also more carrying fewer bags than I had expected. Very rarely did we walk into a store where the holiday bags were plentiful. The checkout lines, and even Santa’s station, were light.

The shopping activity didn’t scream “holiday,” and neither did the apparel. There was a sea of sameness, and an unexpected springtime color palette was showcased in store after store. Forget red, green, silver, and gold; pastel pinks, purples, yellows, and turquoises dominated the rows of cashmere sweaters and soft jeggings, evoking mixed holiday shopping emotions.

What I was not as surprised to see was activewear everywhere. The $35.1 billion industry represents 17% of the total apparel market and has been growing at a healthy rate for the past few years.* As store displays showed, active apparel is increasingly being recognized as stylish streetwear, and we can expect such apparel items to sell well during the holiday season.

With aggressive pricing and deals continuing, it will be interesting to not only see what the stores look like through Christmas, but to see how the stores and sales transition in January. For that, another trip to the mall may be in order.

*The NPD Group, Inc. / Apparel Consumer Monthly, October 2014

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