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eMarketer forecasts US retail ecommerce sales of apparel and accessories will reach $74.03 billion in 2016, an 18.7% share of total US retail ecommerce. Apparel is a product category bought in multiple sectors, including department stores and discounters. While this report delves into apparel shopping behavior of all types, the focus is on specialty retail, as explored in a new eMarketer report, “Apparel Retailers and Digital Commerce 2016: Trends and Benchmarks” (eMarketer PRO customers only).
Apparel is a category that’s typically bought using both digital and brick-and-mortar channels. Most US shoppers prefer buying clothing and shoes in stores, yet those products often rank very close to the top, if not No. 1, among digital purchases, too.
A February 2016 Walker Sands Communications survey of US internet users found 78% of respondents had bought clothing and apparel in physical stores in the past year, behind only groceries and packaged goods. Clothing and apparel was also the third most popular category bought on online retail sites like Amazon (55%), and the leading category purchased on brand websites (42%).
This distinct pattern of in-store preference mixed with digital popularity is reiterated by multiple sources. In February 2016, Nielsen found 82% of US internet users it surveyed who had made a clothing or shoe purchase in the preceding 6 months went to physical stores to do so, while 41% used a desktop or laptop computer, and 12% used a mobile device or tablet.
Similarly, an August 2016 AYTM Market Research study found 78.6% of US internet users purchased clothing and accessories in-store, 44.9% did so online and 5.3% used mobile apps or devices. Moreover, clothing and apparel was the leading category bought by US internet users in every channel—in-store (75.6%), by desktop or tablet (58.5%) and smartphone (51.6%)—according to a July 2016 survey of US adult internet users by Onestop and Survata.
Clearly, there is lots of overlap between devices and channels in the apparel path to purchase. Desktops were preferred by the US digital buyers of apparel surveyed in July 2016 by Criteo. Over twice as many bought on desktop than by smartphone (86% vs. 41%), while tablets were used by 26%. No more than 57% used a single device to make these purchases, while the largest share (87%) used a combination of tablets and other devices.
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