The US female consumer shopping behaviour for clothing
Today’s shopping habits, especially the one of female consumers in the U.S. reveals a lot about retailing, fashion and textiles. The U.S. investment research firm PiperJaffray has published an interesting paper that is revealing many aspects of interest. TextileFuture publish here the major findings of interest
First, headwinds to mall traffic appear to be abating in the belief that digital time spent online has been the primary reason for mall traffic declines. In our survey, we found that women are indicating fewer hours on average that they are spending on social media-10.5 hours per week vs. 11.2 hours six months ago. Second, interest in returning to the mall appears to be up on a year-over-year basis. In the survey, it was found that mall shopping frequency clocked in at 1Ox per year versus 8x a year ago. This is particularly relevant given the consistent timing of when the conduct this survey was executed in March.
Denim is a driver
Fashion is critical to driving interest back into the apparel category as an up-trending discretionary category of spending. Denim, it is believed, could lead to interest in apparel what with more treatments, silhouettes, colours and fabrications offered this year. We tend to favour bottoms-driven fashion cycles as they can generate interest in ancillary categories like tops, accessories and footwear. Overall spending on fashion is indicated up 12 % on a year-over year basis, and when looking across clothing, shoes and accessories. While we do not have year-over-year comparisons of this question (and comparing to fall is not terribly relevant), it is noticeable that in the absolute view, denim appears to be in-demand. In the survey, 31 % of women have purchased a new pair of denim jeans in the past month. Of those women who have purchased a new pair, 77 % are intending to buy another pair in the next three months. Of those women not yet purchased a pair, more than half (54 %) indicate they intend to buy a pair. Among key denim destinations, we found the following brands and retailers commonly cited among the top four: Walmart, Kohl’s, J.C. Penney and Old Navy.
Economic sentiment is a mixed bag, but spending intentions are up
Opinions about the present economy faded on a year-over-year and sequential basis. Our survey does not have historical data that goes back to prior presidential election cycles, so we believe, it would be important to place into context our economic-related survey insights against that backdrop, but this is not possible. That said, it is noteworthy that the intent to spend “more” is up meaningfully vs. a year ago among both the moderate income households (USD 35000 to USD 80000), and the upper-moderate income households (USD 85000+) what with 19 % of the respondents in each income group up from 9 % (moderate) and 8 % (upper-moderate) a year ago.
As February rolled into March 2016, the authors talked with 1040 women to gain their insights on the economy, and they were asked on how they are spending on themselves and their homes. From a demographic perspective, the survey used a panel of respondents of women reporting at least a USD 35000 household income with an average age of 49.
Preferred Fashion Brands and Retailers
In addition to asking about broader spending categories, we also asked about brands in favour and out of favour with the polled respondents. Key survey findings provide the following insights: Kohl’s maintained its No. 1 position as a preferred retailer when shopping for clothing; and 2) JC. Penney maintained its top-of-mind status in coming in at No. 3 among preferred brands for clothing with a consistent 7 % mind share percentage among all votes.
When asking about their top three preferred clothing brand and/or clothing stores, the collection of mid-tier department stores followed by discounters, specialty and off-price stores. From a specific company perspective the survey proved Kohl’s taking the top spot once again, followed next by Amazon and J.C. Penney. In a separate report published in tandem with this industry report, it was highlighted that those shoppers purchasing from JCP in the past six months are increasingly inclined to repurchase in the next three months this spring versus a year ago.
Respondents were asked to name a brand/store/website they recently started to buy from, as well as brands/stores/websites they are no longer buying from, and in an aim to gauge the inflection point in interest of a brand. The first table below, they were asked to name a brand/store/website they recently started to buy from. From a company specific standpoint, Amazon once again took first place. Kohl’s once again rank at No. 2 with 4 % mind share, consistent with this past fall and a year ago. J.C. Penney moved from No. 9 last spring to No. 7 as a “new store” from which women are buying.
In the table below respondents were asked to name a brand/store/website they are no longer buying from. J.C. Penney once again shows up in the top spot – consistent with the broader share shift that has occurred at JCP in recent years. These trends going forward will be monitored.
From a footwear perspective, the respondents commented on their preferred shoe brands, stores and/or websites. No surprise, Nike once again takes the top spot (also in the taking stock with teens survey). The newxt three are along the discount curve, including Payless ShoeSource, Skechers and DSW. Amazon ticked down, but remained in the top five.
Fashion is critical do driving interest back into the apparel category as an up-trending discretionary category of spending. Denim could lead to interest in apparel as mentioned before. The authors of the survey tend to favour bottoms-driven fashion cycles as they can generate interest in ancillary categories like tops, accessories and footwear. Overall spending on fashion is indicated up 12 % on a year-over year basis when looking across clothing, shoes and accessories. There is no year-over year comparison available (comparison to fall is not terribly relevant), but it is noteworthy that in the absolute view, denim appears to be in-demand. In the survey 31 % of women have purchased a new pair of jeans, 77 % are intending to purchase another pair within the next three months. And of those women not having purchased a pair, more than half (54 %) indicate they intend to buy a pair. Among key denim destinations, the following brands and retailers were commonly cited among the top four: Walmart (non-covered), Kohl’s, J.C. Penney, and Old Navy.
Shopping behaviour and channels – Mall visits up spring versus spring
Not all shopping behaviour is the same
In the section following, a deeper insight into shopping behaviour and an exploration online versus physical retailer store preferences, as well as how consumers use their smartphones in the pre-purchase journey. Overall, the vast majority of women in the history of the survey shop online. For all the key categories of discretionary monitored in the survey, the range of percentage of women who shop online goes from 40 % on furniture/home up to 74 % for clothing.
When asked about whether women prefer to shop sites of retailers with physical stores versus online-only e-tailers, we find that retailers’ sites with a physical retail presence continue to outweigh that of pure-play e-tailers by nearly 2:1.
In an aided format, respondents were to select which features are important to them when making a purchase online. The price was the most important factor, on average, followed by free shipping and selection. Customers are more concerned with the cost of shipping (free shipping ranks near the top of the list) than the speed of shipping (two-day shipping ranks toward the lower end of the list). There is little change in the responses on this question.