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US Children's Clothing market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Children's Clothing market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

This report covers the market related to shopping for children’s clothing up to and including preteen clothes, and includes the following groups:

  • infant (1 year)
  • toddler/preschool (1-5 years)
  • young boys and girls/preteen (6-11 years)

The principal types of clothing covered in this report include:

  • sleepwear
  • underwear
  • daywear
  • outerwear

Excluded: Children’s footwear, accessories/ jewelry and hats/gloves. Footwear was covered in Mintel’s Children’s Footwear – US, March 2017.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Alexis DeSalva, a leading analyst in the Retail sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Although future growth faces some challenges due to declining birth rates, the market is steady. Retailers need to find ways to evolve the meaning of value and convenience for parents, especially as they do more shopping online. Further, looking to existing shoppers to drive incremental sales will be important for maintaining ongoing engagement. Alexis DeSalva
Retail & Apparel Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • Overview
          • Issue: expected growth is minimal
            • Opportunity: encourage incremental purchases by appealing to the whole family
              • Issue: parents prefer multipurpose retailers
                • Opportunity: offering purchase alternatives to attract more parents
                  • Issue: parents have different priorities
                    • Opportunity: appeal to dads’ sartorial desires
                      • Issue: kids influence purchases
                        • Opportunity: engaging with kids to build long-term relationships
                          • What it means
                          • The Market – What You Need to Know

                            • Slow growth attributed to fewer births
                              • The internet is changing how parents shop
                              • Market Size and Forecast

                                • Minimal growth anticipated over the next five years
                                  • Figure 1: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of market, at current prices, 2013-23
                                  • Figure 2: Total US sales and forecast of market, at current prices, 2013-23
                              • Market Factors

                                • Population of children faces growth challenges
                                  • Figure 3: Annual births and general fertility rate, 2007-17
                                  • Figure 4: Households, by presence of own children, 2008-18
                                • Future population will become more diverse
                                  • Figure 5: Population by race and Hispanic origin, 2013-23
                                • Who are parents, and how are they shopping?
                                  • Gen X and older parents
                                    • Millennial parents
                                    • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                      • Mass merchandisers are the favorites
                                        • Casual clothing creates disinterest for dressy clothes
                                          • Rethinking purchase options to engage price-conscious parents
                                          • What’s Happening?

                                            • Mass merchandisers’ efforts to improve are winning with parents
                                              • Figure 6: Walmart email campaign, October 2018
                                              • Figure 7: Target email campaign, September 2018
                                              • Figure 8: Retailers shopped (net), November 2018
                                            • Popularity of PJs could encourage more adult purchases
                                              • Figure 9: Old Navy email campaign, December 2018
                                            • Kids, especially daughters, as influencers
                                              • Figure 10: Purchase influencers (any rank), by age of girl in household, November 2018
                                          • What’s Struggling?

                                            • Kids’ clothing is not exempt from the casualization trend
                                              • Figure 11: Athleta girl email campaign, November 2018
                                          • What’s Next?

                                            • Dads: the untapped style-seekers
                                              • Figure 12: Gucci email campaign, March 2018
                                              • Figure 13: Neiman Marcus email campaign, December 2018
                                            • Alternative ownership and purchasing options provide some shoppers with the flexibility they seek
                                              • Figure 14: Secondhand retailer and subscription service shopped (net any shopping), moms vs dads, November 2018
                                          • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                            • Age and gender of children impacts purchases
                                              • Parents continue to shop online and favor mass merchandisers
                                                • Replacement and price drive purchases, but children are also influential
                                                  • Moms are thrifty, while dads emphasize style
                                                  • Items Purchased

                                                    • Key takeaways
                                                      • Gender influences the types of clothing bought for children
                                                        • Figure 15: Items purchased (net any purchase), November 2018
                                                        • Figure 16: Items purchased, gender shopped for, November 2018
                                                      • Moms are primary shoppers
                                                        • Figure 17: Items purchased (net any purchase), moms vs dads, November 2018
                                                    • Retailers Shopped

                                                      • Key takeaways
                                                        • Parents increasingly turn to mass merchandisers and shop online for kids’ clothes
                                                          • Figure 18: Retailers shopped (net online/in-store), November 2018
                                                        • Younger parents turn to the experts
                                                          • Figure 19: Department and specialty children’s clothing store shopping (net online/in-store), 18-44s vs over-45s, November 2018
                                                        • Amazon is winning with dads
                                                          • Figure 20: Shopped at, moms vs dads, November 2018
                                                        • Different priorities prompt multicultural parents to shop different retailers
                                                          • Figure 21: Urban outfitters email campaign, July 2018
                                                          • Figure 22: Retailers shopped (net online/in-store), by race and Hispanic origin, November 2018
                                                      • Reasons for Buying and Acquiring

                                                        • Key takeaways
                                                          • Replacement and price are top motivations for purchases
                                                            • Figure 23: Reasons for buying, November 2018
                                                          • Moms are more strategic, while dads are persuaded by kids
                                                            • Figure 24: Reasons for buying, moms vs dads, November 2018
                                                          • Older children prompt purchases
                                                            • Figure 25: Children-related reasons for buying and purchase influencers (any rank), by age of boy/girl, November 2018
                                                          • Hispanic parents make special occasion purchases
                                                          • Purchase Influencers

                                                            • Key takeaways
                                                              • Children are most influential
                                                                • Older parents seek guidance from retailers
                                                                  • Figure 26: In-store displays as a purchase influencers (net any rank), parents 18-44 vs over-45s, November 2018
                                                                • Dads turn to trusted sources
                                                                  • Figure 27: Purchase influencers (net any rank), dads vs moms, November 2018
                                                                • Traditional and word-of-mouth endorsements influence some multi-cultural parents’ purchases
                                                                  • Figure 28: Select purchase influencers (net any rank), by race and Hispanic origin, November 2018
                                                              • Preferences for Buying

                                                                • Key takeaways
                                                                  • As parents and kids age, children become more involved in shopping
                                                                    • Figure 29: Preferences for letting children have their say in their clothing, by age of parents and children, November 2018
                                                                  • Convenience and ideological values draw in dads
                                                                    • Figure 30: Preference for buying – Dads, by age, November 2018
                                                                  • The in-store experience is still important to older generations
                                                                    • Figure 31: Preferences for buying, Millennials vs older generations, November 2018
                                                                • Attitudes toward Shopping for Children’s Clothing

                                                                  • Key takeaways
                                                                    • Most parents are open to new or unfamiliar brands
                                                                      • Figure 32: Attitudes toward shopping for children’s clothing, November 2018
                                                                    • Moms demonstrate a thrifty attitude
                                                                      • Figure 33: Attitudes toward shopping for children’s clothing (select), moms vs dads, November 2018
                                                                    • Dads prioritize style
                                                                      • Figure 34: Attitudes toward clothes shopping, dads vs non-dads, February 2018
                                                                      • Figure 35: Nordstrom email campaign, December 2018
                                                                  • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                    • Data sources
                                                                      • Sales data
                                                                        • Fan chart forecast
                                                                          • Consumer survey data
                                                                            • Direct marketing creative
                                                                              • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                • Abbreviations
                                                                                • Appendix – The Market

                                                                                    • Figure 36: Total US sales and forecast of market, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2013-23
                                                                                • Appendix – The Consumer

                                                                                    • Figure 37: Retailers Shopped, November 2018