Online retailers grab more apparel sales

Online apparel sales are on the rise, and online-only retailers are increasingly stealing share from other channels.

In 2017, 21% of annual apparel sales came from website purchases, and 76% stemmed from in-store purchases. However, in-store purchases declined 3% compared to 2016, while online apparel sales increased 7% to $46 million, according to “The Future of Apparel,” a study from The NPD Group.

According to the study, almost half of the U.S. online buying population made an apparel purchase online in 2017. Further, the average annual apparel online spend per buyer increased 11% compared to 2016, according to a separate study, NPD’s “Checkout E-Commerce Tracking.”

The largest consumer segment is also very comfortable shopping online, as these shoppers consider themselves to be social, fashion, and image conscious. There are also higher rates of online sales of seasonal and special-occasion apparel categories, like tailored clothing, sleep, and outerwear, according to NPD.

“Online has opened the doors to more ways to engage consumers,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor, the NPD Group.

“Apparel’s online consumer audience is expanding as the platform evolves into a more complete and diverse shopping experience,” Cohen added. “Online-only retailers have a unique flexibility that helps them compete in this constantly changing shopping environment, provided they don’t lose sight of innovative thinking.”