Despite overall declines in the women’s apparel segment, a group of shoppers say they will continue to spend in the category and will represent a disproportionate percentage of category sales, according to Kurt Salmon’s analysis of BIGResearch’s most recent study of more than 8,000 shoppers’ opinions.

While women are generally conservative about the health of the economy and their personal finances, these more confident shoppers, likely including women who feel secure in their employment and whose outlook is not driven by the value of homes or stock portfolios, say they plan to spend the same or more on women’s apparel during the summer months.

Kurt Salmon’s research shows that:

  • 24% of the women surveyed, compared to 30% of male respondents, said they were saving enough.
  • Further, women are more inclined to change their behaviors, especially behaviors related to spending. In particular, they are more likely to become more practical and realistic in their purchases, focus on needs rather than wants and become more budget conscious.
  • Women have also deferred more discretionary purchases than men, with the biggest discrepancies being in going out to eat and apparel purchases.

Because 37% of women continue to defer apparel purchases, women’s apparel sales are likely to remain sluggish in the near future. However, a target group of “confident” women shoppers, who spend an average of $80 per month on women’s apparel purchases, will maintain or increase their women’s apparel spending between May and July. This group may be gaining momentum, as their numbers have slowly started to climb during the spring months.

  • This target group is younger and seemingly more upwardly mobile than their more conservative counterparts, being more affluent, more likely to continue dining out and more brand conscious.
  • These consumers prefer shopping at department stores and specialty stores for women’s apparel, as opposed to discounters.
  • These women are also more demanding shoppers, placing higher expectations than more conservative shoppers across many non-price aspects of retailers, especially selection, quality and styles.

Because this target group’s spending represents a considerable 57% of women’s apparel sales, retailers and brands that target this group are more likely to be successful in the coming months.

Kurt Salmon drew these conclusions in partnership with BIGresearch, a consumer intelligence firm.

30 June 2009