Ecommerce is looking more and more like the tool men needed to improve upon their fashion game.
The ability to both keep up with fashion online and buy it without having to scour through stores and malls — or even wander far from home or work to return it — has helped propel men’s wear to one of the fastest-growing categories in online shopping. For fashionistas and couch potatoes alike, it’s addressed male consumers’ needs and wants.
In a study by research firm IBISWorld of 15 product categories — including men’s and footwear but not women’s or children’s wear — no sector showed greater growth in online sales over the last five years, or was expected to show faster expansion in the next five, than men’s.
Coming off a 17.4 percent compound annual growth rate between 2009 and 2014, raising online men’s wear sales to $9.6 billion last year, e-commerce men’s wear is expected to grow at a 14.2 percent clip in the next five years. Those figures compare with a 2.8 percent expansion of in-store men’s sales leading up to 2014 and projected growth of 3.3 percent a year in brick-and-mortar men’s wear sales for the rest of the decade.
Rapid growth online has helped to lift men’s wear’s growth rates above those of women’s in recent years, although women’s continues to outsell men’s in dollars terms by nearly a two-to-one margin. The NPD Group in Port Washington, N.Y., reported that in 2013, the last calendar year for which figures are available, retail sales of men’s wear grew 5.2 percent to $60.8 billion while women’s wear advanced at a slower 3.7 percent pace to $116.4 billion in retail sales. NPD’s research showed a 19 percent growth rate for online men’s wear purchases in 2013, to about $8.5 billion or 14 percent of total sales in the category.
The Department of Commerce estimated that overall e-commerce sales last year increased 15.4 percent, plus or minus 2.3 percent, to $304.9 billion, accounting for 6.5 percent of total sales, up from 5.8 percent in 2013. Ten years ago, that figure was about 2.4 percent. (Revised figures for last year are due out in May.)
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