Putting the tumultuous performance of retailers in perspective has been nearly impossible for years. First came the pandemic, with store closures and shortages. Then came record revenues, fueled in part by government stimulus. Next, as supply chains caught up, stores faced inventory gluts, leading to frantic markdowns. And recently, there have been widespread fears of slower consumer spending in light of inflation.
Given all that volatility, Deutsche Bank decided to do a market share study of apparel, footwear and accessories sales in the U.S. Looking at intervals of one, three and five years, the study paints a substantive picture of retail brands that are winning with shoppers and those falling behind. In the five-year analysis, Shein, which gained 161 basis points in the ranking, is the fastest-growing. (That growth is especially impressive, since the Chinese retailer didn’t come to the U.S. until 2022, the same year it became the world’s largest fast-fashion retailer.)
Nike comes in second, (up 113 basis points), followed by Lululemon (up 95), TJX (up 88) and Walmart’s Sam's Club (up 80).
Macy’s lost the most ground, falling 104 basis points, followed by Kohl’s (down 91), Victoria's Secret (down 75 ), Nordstrom (down 61), and Forever 21 (down 55.)
Amazon is a wild card. “While it is difficult to examine Amazon’s apparel, footwear and accessories presence due to the company's vast business segments,” it likely gained more than 1,000 basis points, outshining every other company in the study, writes Gabriella Carbone, an analyst who follows the retail sector for Deutsche and the study's lead author. “That said, we believe traditional apparel retailers have largely held their own,” she adds, pointing out that Amazon is reportedly shuttering all but three of its 30 separate clothing labels.
Category trends also emerged. “On a three-year basis, the discounter group has captured the most market share, which we think is partly due to consolidated shopping trips during the pandemic,” she says.
On a five-year basis, off-price stores have gained the most.
And within the athletic sector, Nike and Lululemon led in every period when ranked by market share gains. Both ranked in the top four across the entire study. “During times of macro uncertainty, we believe consumers tend to gravitate towards brands they know and trust, and we think both Nike and Lululemon fit squarely into this bucket,” Carbone says.
Citing Euromonitor data, she says overall spending in apparel, footwear and accessories gained 2.3% in 2022, 11.5% in the past three years, and 17.4% in the five-year analysis. Footwear is the largest five-year gainer, up 33.8%, followed by apparel, up 19.5%. Sales of accessories declined 12.9% in that period.
Spending increases are continuing into this year despite more cautious consumers. A new analysis of consumer expenditures from Women’s Wear Daily, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, points out that spending on fashion rose in the second quarter. But while personal consumption expenditures climbed by more than $1 trillion, women’s and girls’ apparel grew by just 2.4%, worth about $5.3 billion.
To put that in perspective, WWD notes Americans increased spending on flowers, seeds and potted plants by 9.4%, on air travel by 9.3% and on gambling by 5.8%.