The apparel market hasn’t reached crisis mode, but shopping behavior has changed in ways that are affecting clothing retailers. Yoga pants are now just pants, fewer consumers have separate work and leisure wardrobes, and younger shoppers are supposedly less materialistic (or maybe just poor), embracing experiences instead of goods.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, apparel was the only spending category that declined (1.3%) from the year ending June 2016 to June 2017. Meanwhile, spending on categories like entertainment and eating out, which would fall under experiences, were up 1.1% and 6.2%, respectively.
February 2018 research from Pymnts.com showed millennials make twice as many annual apparel purchases than boomers. The amount spent per transaction rose with age: $101.1 for millennials, $160.5 for Gen X and $172.6 for baby boomers, yet boomers spent the least annually ($1,389), Gen X the most ($2,367) and millennials in the middle ($1,950).
When asked about a favorite merchant, 73 retailers were cited. Pymnts broke out the top ten, and the remaining were classified as “other,” which roughly one-third (32.8%) of consumers chose. Amazon, which has been attempting to become a fashion destination, had the largest single share (14.0%) followed closely by Walmart (12.5%). What's more, Amazon had the most shoppers who said they shopped there because of good selection and Walmart won on price.
This long tail of favored apparel retailers was also apparent in a January 2018 Coresight Research survey. When US internet users were asked about where they had purchased clothing or shoes in the past month, "other" was the top answer (44.3%). Walmart (41.8%) and Amazon (37.4%) also ranked in the top spots, but in the reverse order from Pymnts.