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NPD: Off-Price and Online Lure Women to Spend on Jeans

U.S. women purchased 22 million more jeans in 2018 than in 2017, according to a new report by The NPD Group.

The market research company said Thursday that a total of 364 million pairs of jeans were purchased in the U.S. in the 12 months ending February 2019, quieting the buzz built around comfort and yoga pants.

And while the athleisure category, which NPD said represents 24 percent of the total apparel industry, is riding a wave of momentum that’s accelerated by relaxed dress codes, fabric innovations and celebrity collaborations, the allure of denim rests on traditional values: price and quantity.

Off-price unit and dollar sales are both up nearly 30 percent in the 12 months ended February 2019, NPD reported, representing 17 percent of unit sales and driving the majority of women’s jeans growth.

“The recent growth in women’s jeans is good news for the industry—women want to wear more than just leggings and yoga pants,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor for The NPD Group. “But, the emphasis on quantity and discounting means marketers need to find new ways to inspire the women’s jeans consumer, and deliver product that compels them to take their purchase to the next level.”

And women are shopping specifically for denim. The specialty store channel, like American Eagle Outfitters, H&M and Topshop, accounts for more than a third of annual sales in women’s jeans. The category experienced unit growth of 6 percent compared to the previous 12 months, NPD said.

American Eagle Outfitters
American Eagle Outfitters in New York City George Chinsee/WWD/REX/Shutterstock

In-store sales account for 80 percent of women’s jeans sold. However, NPD said growth is coming from the online channel. The number of women’s jeans purchased online increased 32 percent in the past 12 months. The average online annual spend per buyer on women’s jeans was 4 percent higher than last year, according to NPD’s Checkout E-Commerce information.

Cohen urged the jeanswear industry to adapt to the new denim consumer’s shopping habits and preferences if they have hopes of driving sales.

“Manufacturers and retailers are now faced with the challenge of strengthening the consumer’s passion for jeans to ensure they are more than a commodity in their eyes,” he said.