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The death of the department store and Amazon's strength in fashion, footwear and accessories are exaggerated, writes Managing Director Deborah Weinswig

March 23, 2017

NEW YORK (March 23, 2017) – While off-price and e-commerce remain the major growth channels in U.S. apparel retailing, department stores are still among the most popular destinations for womenswear shoppers, says “Deep Dive: Retail Revolution-US Apparel Shifts in 20 Charts,” a new report from international think tank Fung Global Retail & Technology. Meanwhile, fast fashion’s future is unclear, the report says.

The death of the department store and the exaggerated rise of Amazon as a power in apparel retailing are among a number of misconceptions bedeviling the retail  industry, even as it is undergoing significant disruption, writes Fung Global Retail & Technology Managing Director

Deborah Weinswig.

“The revolution in U.S. retail is perhaps more evident in apparel than in any other category,” Weinswig writes.

The report, which defines apparel as clothing, footwear and accessories, and which covers only U.S. retail, brings together and analyzes data from company filings, market-research firms and consumer surveys. The data are then presented in 20 charts that illustrate the recent changes in, and the misperceptions about the U.S. apparel industry.

While approximately half of U.S. consumers purchase apparel from off-price retailers, the threat posed by European fast-fashion specialists has been significantly overstated, the report says. H&M’s sales of $3.2 billion in 2016 constitute less than a 1 percent share of the U.S. apparel market last year, and its comparable store sales were estimated to be negative in 2016. Based on its current expansion plan, Primark is expected to approach $1 billion in U.S. sales only around September 2020.

Another myth dispelled by the report is the claim that Amazon’s apparel sales now exceed those of  Macy’s. In the fiscal year ended January 2016, Macy’s saw an estimated $22.7 billion in sales (including cosmetics), compared with Amazon’s estimated $5.5 billion in first-party apparel sales. In fact, Walmart was the top apparel seller in fiscal 2016, with approximately $23.3 billion in U.S. sales.

“Amazon is not yet among the top 10 retailers in the US if we consider only estimates for sales it makes itself and not third-party sales it facilitates,” Weinswig writes. “However, those first-party sales appear to be growing rapidly, and will almost certainly propel Amazon into the top 10 in the not-too-distant future.”

When broken down by segment, however, Amazon’s position becomes more clear. The e-commerce giant is the most-shopped retailer for shoes, according to a survey by Fung Global Retail & Technology and partner Prosper Insights & Analytics, and it ranks second for menswear shoppers. Department stores remain the top shopper destination for womenswear (which constitutes half of the U.S. clothing market), although Amazon ranks in the top 10.

The report is the latest in Fung Global Retail & Technology’s Retail Revolution series, and can be found here. Other recent reports issued by Fung Global Retail & Technology include: “Deep Dive: Millennial Lifestyles Drive Growth in Apparel Rental,” Deep Dive: The UK Apparel Handbook-2017 Outlook” and “From Runway to Checkout: The See-Now-Buy-Now Trend in Fashion.” Fung Global Retail & Technology’s reports and analyses can be found at www.coresight.com and www.deborahweinswig.com. Subscribe here to receive Deborah Weinswig’s daily news and analysis on retail, fashion and technology.

About Fung Global Retail & Technology

Fung Global Retail & Technology is a think tank whose research team, based in New York, London and Hong Kong, follows emerging retail and tech trends, specializing in the ways retail and technology intersect, and in building collaborative communities.

The team, led by Deborah Weinswig, former top Wall Street and retail tech analyst and startup advisor, publishes ongoing thematic and global market research on topics such as the Internet of Things, digital payments, omnichannel retail, luxury and fashion trends, and disruptive technologies. More information can be found at www.coresight.com.

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