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Demand and Innovation Launch US Swimwear into a $4.4 Billion Industry

The beach is open for business. The NPD Group reported that total swimwear sales in the U.S. reached $4.4 billion in the year ended May 2014, a 6 percent increase over the prior year. And all signs point to smooth sailing for the category in upcoming seasons.

Led by new products developed to provide health benefits, improved fit, advances in UV protection, thermal swimwear and lightweight performance swimwear, Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for The NPD Group, said, “There is a healthy demand for swimwear, and we can expect this to continue for a few seasons.”

Sales for women’s two-pieces increased 8 percent and cover-ups were up 7 percent. The swim shirt category, as small as it may be compared to women’s one-pieces, which grew 16 percent during the 12-month period, is also gaining market share. The category represented 5 percent of total swim sales, an increase of two share points from the prior year, the group reported. Cohen noted that men and women are finding more use for the swim shirt than originally designed by wearing them as cover-ups and even as sportswear.

“Swim shirts can be used for a variety of water and other outdoor activities, for the sports enthusiasts or those simply looking to protect themselves from the sun or lounge by the water, demonstrating that this diverse sportswear has some real growth potential,” he added.

Innovation might be driving consumers to spend more on their swimwear, but don’t dismiss the persuasion of a good-looking swimsuit, especially as this consumer likes to update their pool-side look each season. Looking ahead Cohen, said, ”Combining innovation with such consistent demand enhances the fact that consumer swimwear spending is not going away anytime soon.”