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Covered in this report

This report will identify behaviors and preferences among female shoppers when shopping for clothing. For the purposes of this report, Mintel has used the following definitions:

The report focuses on purchases adult women 18+ (versus teens) make for themselves (versus as gifts). While the report primarily focuses on women, some discussion of purchases by men is included. Clothing in this report covers the following categories: jeans, pants/slacks, T-shirts, blouses, sweaters, dresses, skirts, jackets/coats, blazers, shorts, workout clothes (tops and bottoms) and underwear.

Swimwear, sleepwear, hosiery, footwear and accessories are not discussed in this Report but are included in the overall women’s clothing market size. Note that the market size includes all sales of women’s clothing, regardless of the purchaser.

"Most women are buying clothes and many do so frequently. With numerous options of where and how to shop, retailers are pressured to evaluate their assortments and, just as importantly, the way they engage with shoppers. More diverse and independent women shopping the category means more preferences and behaviors retailers need to consider. In order to remain relevant, retailers and brands need to explore meeting the consumer where they are, using social media to communicate and interact with consumers, and offering flexible purchasing options like rentals or try-before-you-buy to give women more options depending on their situation."

– Alexis DeSalva, Retail & Apparel Analyst

This report examines the following issues:

  • 40% of women are shopping four or fewer times a year
  • Alternative purchasing options introduce new competitors into the market
  • Social media is an emerging shopping destination

What's included

What's included

Table of contents

Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • Overview
          • Issue: 40% of women are shopping four or fewer times a year
            • Opportunity: engage with both the emotional and functional sides of women to drive shopping occasions
              • Issue: alternative purchasing options introduce new competitors into the market
                • Opportunity: consider offering options that promote circularity and sustainability
                  • Issue: social media is an emerging shopping destination
                    • Opportunity: using content to aide commerce
                      • What it means
                      • The Market – What You Need to Know

                        • Growth will be small, but stable
                          • Increase in diverse and independent women introduces new shoppers, with varying preferences
                          • Market Size and Forecast

                            • Modest but stable growth expected
                              • Figure 1: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of market, at current prices, 2014-24
                              • Figure 2: Total US sales and forecast of women’s clothing, at current prices, 2014-24
                          • Market Factors

                            • More women living independently signals potential increase in clothes spending
                              • Figure 3: Single-person households, 2008-18
                            • Culture influences style and shopping preferences
                              • Figure 4: Population by race and Hispanic origin, 2014-24
                          • Key Trends – What You Need to Know

                            • Emerging competitors make for a more-crowded market
                              • Versatile styles are in, separate wardrobes are out
                                • Women are evolving into conscious shoppers
                                • Competitors to know

                                  • Traditional specialty retailers overshadowed by younger sub-brands
                                    • Alternative purchase options threaten traditional competitors
                                      • Figure 5: American Eagle email campaign, February 2019
                                      • Figure 6: New York & Co email campaign, June 2019
                                    • Social media: the new competitor?
                                      • Figure 7: Shop Instagram profile, May 2019
                                  • What’s In?

                                    • Streetwear isn’t just for the streets
                                      • Figure 8: Off White Instagram post, July 2019
                                      • Figure 9: Nike Instagram post, May 2019
                                      • Figure 10: Lululemon Instagram post, July 2019
                                    • Making a monochrome fashion statement
                                      • Figure 11: Kate Spade Instagram post, February 2019
                                      • Figure 12: Carolina Herrera Instagram post, June 2019
                                    • Consumers are nostalgic for the ’90s
                                      • Figure 13: Jcrew Instagram post, June 2019
                                      • Figure 14: Rent the Runway Instagram post, July 2019
                                  • What’s Out?

                                    • Not much difference in wear-to-work and wear elsewhere
                                      • Figure 15: Editorialist email campaign, June 2019
                                  • What’s Next?

                                    • Influencers are the new designers
                                      • Figure 16: Nordstrom email campaign, September 2018
                                      • Figure 17: Amazon The Drop Instagram post, May 2019
                                    • A circular economy will play a bigger role in fashion/clothing market
                                      • Sustainable style is fashionable to younger generations
                                        • Figure 18: H&M email campaign, September 2018
                                      • Rentals and resellers offer sustainability and affordable style
                                        • Figure 19: West Elm email campaign, July 2019
                                    • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                      • Most women shop frequently and do so in warmer months
                                        • Most women are practical and affordable shoppers, but they don’t always need a specific reason to buy clothes
                                          • Women prefer casual, versatile clothing
                                            • Alternative purchasing options are a growing threat, but can also engage more shoppers
                                            • Shopping Frequency and Seasonality

                                              • Key takeaways:
                                                • More than half of women shop frequently, signaling multiple opportunities to connect with shoppers
                                                  • Figure 20: Shopping frequency, June 2019
                                                • Shopping frequency slows with age, but income is less restricting
                                                  • Figure 21: Shopping frequency, by age, June 2019
                                                • Warm weather motivates women to shop
                                                  • Figure 22: Shopping seasonality, June 2019
                                              • Types of Shoppers

                                                • Key takeaways:
                                                  • The priorities: practicality and affordability
                                                    • Figure 23: Shopper segments, June 2019
                                                  • Young women want the trends, but at a value
                                                    • Figure 24: Types of shoppers, by generation, June 2019
                                                  • Women will tailor where they shop to get what they want
                                                    • Figure 25: Retailers shopped by shopping segment, in-store and online, June 2019
                                                • Retailers Shopped

                                                  • Key takeaways:
                                                    • In-store shopping is most popular, but majority of women are shopping both channels
                                                      • Figure 26: Retailers shopped, in-store versus online, June 2019
                                                    • Younger and affluent women are core online shoppers
                                                      • Figure 27: Shopping method, by age and income, June 2019
                                                      • Figure 28: Everlane email campaign, December 2017
                                                    • Amazon’s appeal isn’t felt by all females
                                                      • Figure 29: Retailers shopped online, by age and income, June 2019
                                                  • Items Purchased

                                                    • Key takeaways:
                                                      • Versatile, casual clothing is most purchased
                                                        • Figure 30: Items purchased – NET any purchase, June 2019
                                                        • Figure 31: FORWARD by Elyse Walker email campaign, May 2019
                                                      • Streetwear drive sales among young women
                                                        • Figure 32: Items purchased – NET any purchase, by generation, June 2019
                                                        • Figure 33: Nike Women Instagram post, March 2019
                                                        • Figure 34: Zara Instagram post, June 2019
                                                      • White women embrace activewear more than others
                                                        • Figure 35: Items purchased – NET any purchase, by race and Hispanic origin, June 2019
                                                    • Reasons for Shopping

                                                      • Key takeaways:
                                                        • Most women can’t turn down a deal or a chance to reward themselves
                                                          • Figure 36: Reasons for shopping, June 2019
                                                        • Older women are more practical shoppers, while their younger counterparts live for the moment
                                                          • Figure 37: Reasons for shopping, by age and presence of children, June 2019
                                                          • Figure 38: Madewell email campaign, November 2018
                                                        • White women are mostly strategic shoppers, while Black women shop for self and savings
                                                          • Figure 39: Reasons for shopping, by race and Hispanic origin, June 2019
                                                          • Figure 40: Vineyard vines by Target email campaign, May 2019
                                                          • Figure 41: Madewell email campaign, June 2019
                                                      • Preferences for Shopping

                                                        • Key takeaways:
                                                          • Casual clothing is here to stay
                                                            • Figure 42: Preferences for shopping, June 2019
                                                            • Figure 43: Anthropologie email campaign, May 2019
                                                          • Young women are multichannel shoppers and seek advice along their journey
                                                            • Figure 44: Preferences for buying, by generation, June 2019
                                                          • White women shop for casual clothing, and Black women buy outfits
                                                            • Figure 45: Preferences for shopping, by race and Hispanic origin, June 2019
                                                        • Attitudes toward Shopping for Clothes

                                                          • Key takeaways:
                                                            • Alternative purchasing methods can encourage more women to shop
                                                              • Figure 46: Attitudes toward shopping for clothes, June 2019
                                                              • Figure 47: amazon email campaign, June 2019
                                                              • Figure 48: Michael Kors email campaign, July 2019
                                                            • Young women see synergy between content and commerce
                                                              • Figure 49: Attitudes toward clothes shopping, by age and generation, June 2019
                                                              • Figure 50: Jcrew Instagram post, May 2019
                                                              • Figure 51: Madewell Instagram post, June 2019
                                                          • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

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

                                                                              • Figure 52: Total US sales and forecast of women’s clothing, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2014-24

                                                                          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.

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