Online clothing sales experienced a 6 percent increase during the 2002 holiday shopping season to 35 percent, according to data from Retail Forward, registering a 13-point jump from the 2000 holiday season. This two-year surge is second only to the online purchases of DVDs (8 percent in 2000 rising to 23 percent in 2002), and indicative of a rapid growth phase.
“This is significant because apparel is one of those items that many thought would have difficulty making traction online given customers’ desire to try on goods before purchasing,” comments Mary Brett Whitfield, senior vice president and director of the Retail Forward E-Retail Intelligence Program, a survey of over 500 Internet users from December 27, 2002 to January 2, 2003.
Measurement data from Nielsen//NetRatings indicated that shopping sites were among the most popular destinations for women, particularly for clothing. Heavy traffic was noted to Lane Bryant, Newport News, Coldwater Creek, and Blair — sites that specialize in women’s apparel.
|Top Online Destinations for Females,
February 2003 (Age 18+, U.S., At Home)
|Brand or Channel||Composition||Unique Audience|
|abc distributing inc||83.5%||405,000|
|Top Apparel/Beauty Destinations,
Week Ending March 9, 2003
(U.S., At Home)
|Rank||Brand or Channel||Unique
But with The NPD Group, Inc. reporting that 76 percent of consumers are “being careful” about spending on discretionary products and services, online clothing sales could suffer through the second quarter of 2003, but big-ticket items are likely to be hit harder.
According to the responses of more that 2,500 individuals in early March 2003, 41 percent plan to spend less than usual in March, April and May, 14 percent are planning to spend more than usual, and 45 percent plan to spend about the same as usual.
|Percentage of Consumers
Who Are Likely to Spend
“Much Less Than Usual” on:
|Full service restaurants||24%|
|Source: The NPD Group, Inc.|
Offline clothing retailers have also fared well, with big revenue increases noted by BIGResearch in comparisons from March 2002 to March 2003.
|Shop Most Often for Women’s
& Men’s Clothing Comparison
March 2003 vs. March 2002
|Women’s Clothing||Men’s Clothing|
|JC Penney||-15.9%||JC Penney||– 4.2%|
BIGResearch also found that apparel bargain-hunters were more prevalent this year than in 2003. Nearly one-quarter (23.5 percent) of consumers only bought clothing items that were on sale — compared to 15.7 percent in March 2002.