Behind the Online Apparel Boom

Apparel is the resilient backbone of the American economy. More retailers are devoted to selling apparel and accessories than any other form of merchandise. And more than any of type of product, apparel is what consumers purchase during the year-end holiday season, which is when most retailers bank their profits for the entire year.

So when there’s a sea change in the way consumers shop for apparel, the waves wash over the entire U.S. economy. That sea change is happening right now and consumers in droves are abandoning apparel stores for apparel websites.

In 2015 alone, total reportable online apparel sales grew by 19.7% to an estimated $77 billion, fully 55% faster than the growth rate for all other types of merchandise sold on the web.  Even these numbers are understated because they exclude the online sales of apparel by mass merchants, such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp., which do not break out their sales of clothing on the web.

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