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US Handbags and Accessories market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Handbags and Accessories 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 and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?


For the purposes of this Report, Mintel has used the following definitions:

The Report examines purchases of fashion accessories through all retail channels. It covers a broad range of handbags and accessories for men and women including:

  • All types of handbags/man bags made from leather and synthetic fabrics, including backpacks, briefcases, workout bags, laptop cases/bags, and purses.
  • Belts, scarves, hats and other headwear, gloves, ties, socks, hosiery, wallets, jewelry, and watches. Note that while jewelry and watches are included in the definition, it is not covered in detail. More information on watches and jewelry can be found in Mintel’s Watches & Jewelry – US, September 2015 and the upcoming Mintel’s Watches and Jewelry – US, October 2017.

Excluded from the Report are mobile phone cases and accessories, hair accessories (eg headbands, hair holders etc), key chains, sunglasses, and luggage.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Diana Smith, 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.

Consumers remain cautious when it comes to spending their discretionary income, and for most, handbags and accessories aren’t at the top of the priority list. In fact, consumers are buying fewer accessory items and/or shifting toward more affordable options instead of designer labels. Young, urban, and upscale consumers represent the primary target opportunity, yet they need to be reminded – and may need to be persuaded – to accessorize. Diana Smith
Associate Director - Retail & Apparel


What's included

What's included

Table of contents

Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • People are not buying as many accessories
            • Figure 1: Items purchased and repertoire of items purchased, by generation, February 2017
            • Figure 2: Percentage of those reducing purchases in the category, by generation, February 2017
          • Affordable luxury is the name of today’s game
            • Figure 3: Retailers shopped, February 2017
            • Figure 4: Handbag preferences, February 2017
          • Accessories are afterthoughts
            • Figure 5: Reasons for purchase, February 2017
          • The opportunities
            • Play to the male fashion aficionados
              • Figure 6: Select handbags purchased, by gender, February 2017
              • Figure 7: Select other accessories purchased, by gender, February 2017
            • Lean into what young shoppers want with an eye toward the future
              • Figure 8: Attitudes toward handbags and accessories, by iGeneration and Millennials, February 2017
            • Highlight the power of little luxuries
              • Figure 9: Reason for purchase – To treat myself, by gender and age, February 2017
            • What it means
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • Young adults more engaged in the category
                • The ying yang effect: stable economy but cautious consumers
                  • Upscale brands taking a hit
                    • Consumers opt for affordable luxury
                    • Market Factors

                      • Market synopsis
                        • Younger generations are key targets
                          • Figure 10: Population by generation, 2012-22
                        • Men play an important role
                          • Figure 11: Population by gender and generation, 2017
                        • Consumer confidence is peaking…
                          • Figure 12: Consumer confidence and unemployment, 2000-January 2017
                        • …but that doesn’t mean consumers are on a spending spree
                          • Figure 13: How extra money is spent, January 2017
                        • Other economic conditions create opportunistic market
                          • Strong US dollar impacts luxury segment
                            • Figure 14: Price-adjusted Broad Dollar Index, 2012-17
                          • Affordable luxury is “in”
                            • Figure 15: Household income distribution, 2015
                          • Sharing economy impacts market
                            • Laptop and mobile device ownership affects handbag size and interiors
                              • Imitation brands may be impacting quality perceptions
                              • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                • Affordable accessorizing more than just a trend
                                  • Luxury sector losing status
                                    • Handbags get smarter
                                      • Craftsmanship gets personal
                                      • What’s Working?

                                          • “Small but mighty” handbags
                                            • Fast fashion jewelry
                                              • “Uptown, downtown” co-branding
                                                • Now trending
                                                  • Socks and Hosiery
                                                    • Jewelry
                                                      • Belts
                                                        • Gloves
                                                          • Wallets
                                                            • Hats
                                                              • Watches
                                                                • Scarves
                                                                  • Ties
                                                                  • What’s Struggling?

                                                                    • Luxury sales not so luxurious
                                                                      • Jury’s out on smartwatches
                                                                      • What’s Next?

                                                                        • Technology will continue to redefine what “style” means
                                                                          • Handbags in a digitally connected world
                                                                            • Customization to the third dimension
                                                                            • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                              • Need to stop the leaking
                                                                                • Men buy bags and accessories, too, and yes, for themselves
                                                                                  • Indulgence within means
                                                                                    • Accessories are afterthoughts
                                                                                      • Accessory-focused stores not primary destinations
                                                                                      • Purchase Incidence

                                                                                          • Purchase of any accessories is high, but a majority are buying four items or less
                                                                                            • Figure 16: Purchase incidence, February 2017
                                                                                            • Figure 17: Repertoire of items purchased, February 2017
                                                                                          • 18-34s with $75K+ HHI are the sweet spot
                                                                                            • Figure 18: Repertoire of items purchased, by age and income, February 2017
                                                                                          • A note of caution: over a fifth of consumers are buying less
                                                                                            • Figure 19: Percentage of those reducing purchases in the category, by age and gender, February 2017
                                                                                          • Men spend more than women
                                                                                            • Figure 20: Purchase incidence of women’s vs men’s clothing or accessories, by gender, October 2015-November 2016
                                                                                            • Figure 21: Amount spent on women’s accessories, by gender and age, October 2015-November 2016
                                                                                            • Figure 22: Amount spent on Men’s accessories, by gender and age, October 2015-November 2016
                                                                                        • Types of Bags Purchased

                                                                                            • A bag’s purpose drives selection; backpacks and purses most popular
                                                                                                • Figure 23: Types of bags purchased, February 2017
                                                                                              • Yes, men carry bags too
                                                                                                  • Figure 24: Types of bags purchased, by gender, February 2017
                                                                                                • Millennials “see now” and want to “buy now”
                                                                                                    • Figure 25: Types of bags purchased, by generation, February 2017
                                                                                                  • In their words: women describe their handbags
                                                                                                  • Handbag Preferences

                                                                                                      • Non-designer versus designer
                                                                                                          • Figure 26: Preference on non-designer vs designer labels, February 2017
                                                                                                          • Figure 27: Preference on non-designer vs designer labels, by select demographics, February 2017
                                                                                                        • One high-end bag versus several generics
                                                                                                          • Figure 28: Preference on number of bags, February 2017
                                                                                                          • Figure 29: Preference on number of bags, by generation and household income, February 2017
                                                                                                        • Change bags or carry the same one
                                                                                                          • Figure 30: Role of occasion on bag choice, February 2017
                                                                                                          • Figure 31: Role of occasion on bag choice, by race and Hispanic origin, February 2017
                                                                                                        • In their words: hot or not brands
                                                                                                          • In their words: defining good value
                                                                                                            • In their words: important attributes
                                                                                                            • Other Accessory Purchases

                                                                                                                • Everyone needs socks
                                                                                                                  • Figure 32: Other accessory items purchased, February 2017
                                                                                                                • Women love their jewels
                                                                                                                  • Figure 33: Other accessory items purchased, by gender, February 2017
                                                                                                                • In their words: how women accessorize
                                                                                                                  • Important
                                                                                                                    • Not that important
                                                                                                                    • Retailers Shopped

                                                                                                                        • Two thirds of consumers have made an online purchase
                                                                                                                          • Figure 34: Retailers shopped by at least one quarter of respondents, February 2017
                                                                                                                        • Accessory and jewelry stores not primary destinations
                                                                                                                          • Figure 35: Retailers shopped by less than one quarter of respondents, February 2017
                                                                                                                        • Highly fragmented category drives up price competition
                                                                                                                          • Figure 36: Items purchased, by retailers shopped, February 2017
                                                                                                                        • In their words: where they shop
                                                                                                                          • In their words: online and mobile buying
                                                                                                                            • Believers and triers
                                                                                                                              • Skeptics
                                                                                                                              • Reasons for Purchase

                                                                                                                                  • Accessories need to “catch their eye”
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 37: Reasons for purchase, February 2017
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 38: Reasons for purchase, by age, February 2017
                                                                                                                                  • Men are more purpose-driven than women
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 39: Reasons for purchase, by gender, February 2017
                                                                                                                                  • In their words: who or what influences women to buy?
                                                                                                                                  • Attitudes toward Handbags and Accessories

                                                                                                                                      • To each their own
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 40: Attitudes toward handbags and accessories, by iGeneration and Millennials, February 2017
                                                                                                                                      • Low interest in subscription services
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 41: Interest areas pertaining to the category, by iGeneration and Millennials, February 2017
                                                                                                                                      • In their words: subscription and rental services
                                                                                                                                        • No thanks, not for me
                                                                                                                                          • I’m open, but it depends…
                                                                                                                                          • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                                                                            • Data sources
                                                                                                                                              • Fan chart forecast
                                                                                                                                                • Consumer survey data
                                                                                                                                                  • Consumer qualitative research
                                                                                                                                                    • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                                                                                      • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                        • Terms
                                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Market

                                                                                                                                                          • Mintel post-election survey methodology
                                                                                                                                                            • Other market data
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 42: Median earnings of full-time, year-round workers, by gender and female-to-male earnings ratio, 1960-2015
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 43: Household income distribution, 2005-15
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 44: Household income distribution, by race and Hispanic origin of householder, 2015
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 45: Household income distribution, by age of householder, 2015
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 46: Perceived changes in spending, January 2017
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 47: Disposable Personal Income change from previous period, January 2007-Dec 2016
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 48: GDP change from previous period and consumption expenditures, Q1 2007-Q4 2016
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 49: US gasoline and diesel retail prices, January 2007-February 2017
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 50: Food sales at home and away from home, January 2003-December 2016
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 51: Median household income, in inflation-adjusted dollars, 2005-15
                                                                                                                                                          • Appendix – Consumer

                                                                                                                                                            • Handbag images shown in survey
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 52: Satchel example, February 2017
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 53: Cross-body bag example, February 2017
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 54: Tote bag example, February 2017
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 55: Shoulder bag example, February 2017
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 56: Clutch or evening purse example, February 2017
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 57: Backpack example, February 2017
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 58: Briefcase with hard case example, February 2017
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 59: Laptop case/bag example, February 2017
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 60: Workout bag example, February 2017
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 61: Purse example, February 2017
                                                                                                                                                            • Other consumer data
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 62: Accessory items purchased, by gender, October 2015-November 2016
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 63: Purchase incidence of watches, by gender and age, October 2015-November 2016
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 64: Amount spent on watches, by gender and age, October 2015-November 2016
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 65: Types of hosiery purchased, October 2015-November 2016
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 66: Attitudes toward fashion, October 2015-November 2016

                                                                                                                                                          About the report

                                                                                                                                                          This report will give you a complete 360-degree view of your market. Not only is it rooted in robust proprietary and high-quality third-party data, but our industry experts put that data into context and you’ll quickly understand:

                                                                                                                                                          • The Consumer

                                                                                                                                                            What They Want. Why They Want It.

                                                                                                                                                          • The Competitors

                                                                                                                                                            Who’s Winning. How To Stay Ahead.

                                                                                                                                                          • The Market

                                                                                                                                                            Size, Segments, Shares And Forecasts: How It All Adds Up.

                                                                                                                                                          • The Innovations

                                                                                                                                                            New Ideas. New Products. New Potential.

                                                                                                                                                          • The Opportunities

                                                                                                                                                            Where The White Space Is. How To Make It Yours.

                                                                                                                                                          • The Trends

                                                                                                                                                            What’s Shaping Demand – Today And Tomorrow.

                                                                                                                                                          Please Note: This is a sample report. All of the figures, graphs, and tables have been redacted.