20 Retail Apparel Industry Statistics, Trends & Analysis

The retail apparel market in the United States is the largest in the world. In 2016, the total value of retailing in this sector was $292 billion. The retail sales from clothing stores in the U.S. will usually exceed $15 billion per month, with a surge in December to more than $23 billion.

Retail apparel for women and girls holds a larger share of revenues compared to that for men and boys. The female segment of the retail apparel industry in the U.S. is valued at $117 billion, while the male segment maintains a value around $87 billion.

No retailer holds a large market share within the retail industry. In the United States, Gap is the industry leader, and their market share is just 4%. In terms of sales, Nike is always consistent with their apparel segment, generating close to $5 billion annually, which is a 2.7% market share.

What makes the retail apparel industry unique is the fact that it is a market that is always changing. It works to identify new customer trends, adapt to them, and use technologies which make the shopping experience for consumers as easy as possible.

Important Retail Apparel Industry Statistics

#1. Athletic wear is the top-performing category for the retail apparel industry. In 2016, some markets saw 8.5% growth within this category, with the global market seeing an 8% surge in sales. (McKinsey)

#2. In 2016, only 19% of retail apparel professionals stated that they expected sales conditions to improve within the next 12 months. In 2017, that figure climbed to 40%. (McKinsey)

#3. Fashion-industry growth with the retail apparel market is expected to grow at 4% each year, with value luxury and affordable luxury being the two primary category winners in the segment. (McKinsey)

#4. In 2018, 55% of apparel and footwear sales originated from outside of North America or Europe, the first time Western markets did not take the lead in global retail sales. (McKinsey)

#5. 74% of consumers who shop at retail outlets for apparel say that they use information from social media to finalize their purchasing decisions. 55% of consumers say that online reviews of apparel companies are important to them. (McKinsey)

#6. The average amount of time that a retail apparel item spends on the shelf in traditional stores is 12 weeks. With Boohoo, that time is cut to just 2 weeks. (McKinsey)

#7. Strong growth levels in the Asia-Pacific region, with up to 7.5% growth forecast, will help offset losses in the mature markets over the next 5 years. (McKinsey)

#8. 41% of consumers say that an ability to personalize their apparel is a top trend for them when they go shopping for clothing. (McKinsey)

#9. 78% of the imports which make it to the retail apparel industry in the United States originate from the Asia-Pacific region. 16% of imports come from Europe, while just 2% come from Africa. (International Apparel Federation)

#10. For the EU-28, 60% of their retail apparel imports originate from the Asia-Pacific Region. 35% of the clothing sold in Europe is made domestically. 4% of the imports for the industry come from Africa. (International Apparel Federation)

#11. Asia is the leading exporter of apparel products in the world today. There are three primary customers, each which receive about one-third of the market: the United States, Asia, and Europe. 35% of the total exports go to Europe, compared to the 27% that go to the U.S., Latin America, and the Caribbean. (International Apparel Federation)

#12. Bangladesh is the fastest growing apparel exporter in the world today, reaching a value of more than $25 billion in 2015. Vietnam is quickly approaching the $25 billion per year mark as well. India is another major apparel exporter, contributing nearly $20 billion per year to the global economy. (International Apparel Federation)

#13. In terms of total cash value, China and Hong Kong lead the world in apparel exports, with over $185 billion in total value. Bangladesh recently moved into second, with a total value of $26.6 billion. Vietnam ($23.4 billion), Italy ($21.2 billion), and India ($18.25 billion) are also top exporters. (International Apparel Federation)

#14. With over $490 billion in total exports sent globally in 2014, a record was set for total value. In 2015, the value of the total exports declined to $453 billion. In 2011, the global export of apparel was valued at $418 billion. (International Apparel Federation)

#15. Family clothing stores in the United States contribute $107 billion in revenues each year. Their growth is slower than other categories, with an average annualized rate of 0.7% since 2013. (IBIS World)

#16. There are over 45,000 firms actively engaged in the retail apparel industry in the United States, responsible for the direct employment of around 750,000 people. (IBIS World)

#17. 91% of retail apparel companies source products from China, making it the primary destination for fashion and clothing. 36% of firms expect to increase sourcing from Vietnam in the next 24 months, while 36% say they are considering sourcing from Bangladesh. (U.S. Fashion Industry Association)

#18. 80% of apparel retailers say that they are planning to add more jobs in the next year, especially in the areas of marketing, sourcing, and data management. (U.S. Fashion Industry Association)

#19. 57% of firms in the retail apparel industry say that they source products from 10 or more different countries or regions. About 54% say that their sourcing base will become even more diversified over the next 24 months. (U.S. Fashion Industry Association)

#20. Compared to just 5 years ago, 87% of retail apparel firms say that ethical sourcing and sustainability are more important in their sourcing decisions today. (U.S. Fashion Industry Association)

Retail Apparel Industry Trends and Analysis

The retail apparel industry is forecast to reach $400 billion in total sales by 2028. Apparel spending in China could top $500 billion at that point, creating a $1 trillion dollar global industry to manage. When the overall fashion industry revenues are added to these figures, we could have a $5 trillion dollar industry that is based on the clothing and footwear we all use every day.

There are three trends that will help to shape this growth in the coming years. Retailers will continue to embrace the digital transformation, creating digital experiences for consumers that allow them to see fashion choices through augmented reality. There will be continuing changes to return policies and shifts in weather-related apparel to consider here as well.

When disposable income levels rise, the revenues in the retail apparel industry trend upward as well. With the first household benefits from the 2018 tax cut legislation reaching households by May 2019, we will know of the trillion-dollar forecasts for the retail apparel industry are realistic.