Women Are Getting Ready To Get Back In The Game

Spring has finally arrived, and consumers’ shopping habits are more in sync with the weather than ever before. With this in mind, The NPD Group recently surveyed consumers to ask what their purchase intentions were for the latest styles. Specifically, NPD asked consumers which categories they were likely to buy, either for themselves, or for someone else. The results, and what they mean for retailers and brands, are below.

When looking at consumers’ apparel purchase intentions for spring, and at the difference between the spending habits of men vs. women, it was interesting to learn that more females than males said they will shop more new styles this season in key categories (tops, pants, and dresses) and even basic ones (underwear, socks, and basic jeans). This is particularly important to note as men’s apparel has outperformed women’s now for the past two years.

Does this indicate 2014 will prove to be the return of the women’s apparel market, or will it be more like the slowing down of the men’s apparel market?

Women outpaced men in bigger categories like jeans; 29 percent of men stated they are likely to purchase the latest styles, compared to 42 percent of women. This is a key change from past years, as women have lagged even in the jeans market compared to men. The industry should be happy about this, since it has needed women to become more engaged with denim again.

Another great indicator that women will shop more this spring than men is even showing through in smaller categories, like blazers. Primarily a men’s category, this year, more than double the women (7 percent) are stating they plan to purchase more blazers than men (3 percent).

The other big category where women are outpacing men is the underwear/lingerie market, with 13 percent of men stating they plan to indulge in the purchase of new underwear, while 21 percent of women plan to update their intimate wardrobe. Women have gone longer than normal over the past two years without building their intimate wardrobe, and those that did buy were mostly replenishing the articles that have run their course and were worn out. Now women are getting ready to get back in the game by buying additional items. I like to use the underwear and intimate categories as a measure for how well the apparel market will fare due to the key commodity used to make them and how it will be priced when the market is in demand.

Mark 2014 as the year retailers will have the opportunity to reconnect with women. With the long, cold winter, and women’s pent-up desire to update their wardrobes rather than carryover last season’s styles, the women’s apparel category will regain some momentum in the marketplace this year. Retailers want women in their stores; they need women in their stores.

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